‘This is totally unacceptable’: Schatz calls for civilian oversight for Red Hill contamination crisis
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said Saturday that the Biden Administration has agreed to provide federal support on the Red Hill water contamination clean up efforts.
Schatz said he told White House officials that the military’s lax approach to the problem calls for civilian oversight from agencies like the EPA, FEMA and the U.S. Department of Energy.
“I’m angry, I’m angry like everybody. This is totally unacceptable. They said this would never happen,” said Schatz.
“This has to be treated like a nuclear reactor, not a piece of old infrastructure. It needs better staff, more staff. It needs the EPA to be integrated into the process.”
The Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, which has a history of leaks, is the suspected source of the contamination of the Navy’s water system, which supplies water to thousands of military families.
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During a virtual town hall meeting Saturday, naval leaders said they are working with other military branches to provide water for families and to find temporary housing in local hotels for people who can’t stay in their homes because it’s making them sick.
“We now have 800 rooms set aside,” said Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Deputy Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
“There’s no shortage of water. We have upwards of 50 to 60,000 gallons of fresh water or bottled water available a day,” Rear Adm. Timothy Kott of Navy Region Hawaii added.
Some residents said the contaminated water and the petroleum smells are making them nauseous and dizzy and giving them headaches and diarrhea.
Navy officials said that should stop once they’re no longer exposed to the contaminated water.
“There are no long term consequences from a short term exposure,” said Capt. Michael McGinnis of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
But it’s unclear how long the military families have been exposed.
Although the reports of foul smells began more than a week ago, the leaks from the Red Hill Bulk Fueling Storage Facilities go back years.
“Should we discover this is a long term issue ... it’s important for us to register who’s been in this area should long term consequences develop,” said McGinnis.
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