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US Rep. Kai Kahele to Navy: Water contamination a ‘crisis of astronomical proportions’

Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 7:58 AM HST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:15 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a congressional hearing on Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele questioned a top Navy leader about the water contamination issue plaguing the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam area.

“I’m bringing up Red Hill today because the Navy is currently experiencing a crisis of astronomical proportions in Hawaii,” Kahele said in the House Armed Services Committee hearing.

“The Navy’s water system is contaminated with petroleum. Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s water systems are entirely shut down. Almost 100,000 people are without water.”

Though it’s still unclear if it’s connected to the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility, which has a history of leaks, Kahele said the facility is located roughly 100 feet above the island’s main ground water aquifers.

Speaking to Vice Adm. Rick Williamson, Kahele said many Hawaii residents have been calling for the immediate drainage of the fuel tanks. He asked whether it’s possible to make Red Hill safe for the community’s water supply and how draining the facility work if the Red Hill fuel storage facility was shut down.

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Vice Adm. Rick Williamson said he could not provide an immediate answer, but that the Navy was taking the situation very seriously.

“We are committed to find the facts, hit the root causes and make the appropriate corrections to anything we discover,” Williamson said.

Kahele reiterated that “This is a crisis that we have not seen in Hawaii.”

“Hawaii has a strong military community, but this is something that’s affecting the lives of our servicemembers, their families, the public, the community,” he said.

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