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Navy apologizes after official says Red Hill contamination isn’t a crisis

Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary James Balocki drew heat for saying the tainted water issue at...
Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary James Balocki drew heat for saying the tainted water issue at Red Hill was not a crisis.(Hawaii News Now)
Published: Dec. 26, 2021 at 3:31 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 26, 2021 at 9:55 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Navy is apologizing for downplaying the seriousness of Oahu’s tainted water crisis.

Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary James Balocki drew heat for saying the tainted water issue at Red Hill was not a crisis.

He made the comments during a contested case hearing over the state’s order to cease operations and drain fuel from the Red Hill storage tanks.

“I would describe a crisis as a compelling threat to human life,” Balocki said.

“I’ve been in combat so I know what crisis looks like. (The contaminated water is ...) an urgent and compelling situation. Not a crisis.”

Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele penned a letter to Balocki’s boss, calling the comments insulting and offensive. Responding to Kahele in a letter, Under Secretary of the Navy Meredith Berger apologized for the choice of words.

“On behalf of the entire Department of the Navy, we are sincerely sorry,” Berger wrote.

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