A photo with DOH and Navy officials throwing shakas is under fire. Here’s why

The Navy says it will comply with the state emergency order to drain its Red Hill underground fuel storage tanks, adding it is already making a plan to do so.
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 4:54 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2022 at 5:17 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A photo of Navy and DOH officials showing shaka signs after signing a joint clean-up agreement during the Navy’s tainted water crisis is prompting criticism.

Some say it’s an example of health officials being too easy on the Navy over the years.

“That photo op, the infamous shaka photo in December, I’m sorry completely unacceptable for the Department of Health and the Navy to be shaka’ing each other for I don’t know what,” said City Council member Esther Kiaaina at a hearing on Tuesday.

Ernie Lau, Honolulu Board of Water chief engineer and manager, said he wants the state Department of Health and EPA to “be assertive with their approach to the Navy, to not do the shakas”

“This is serious and to be assertive, to be respectful with aloha, but to be assertive.”

The state Health Department says the event marked a negotiated agreement between the Navy, DOH, EPA and Army that allowed for system flushing that protects health and the environment.

“At the event, the photographer asked parties to take a photo with a shaka,” said the state Health Department in a statement.

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