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DOH insists ‘no sheen, no plume’ as Navy prepares to dispose treated water into stream

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Published: Jan. 28, 2022 at 5:34 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 28, 2022 at 5:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Despite community concern, health officials are insisting a plan to treat fuel-tainted water from the Navy’s Red Hill shaft and then dispose of it in Halawa Stream is safe.

“The expected treatment from this should produce no sheen, no plume, no extra turbidity,” said Matthew Kurano, state Health Department environmental health specialist.

Meanwhile, as it prepares to embark on the huge project, the Navy took members of the media on a tour Friday of the shaft. HNN’s crew wasn’t allowed to film the entrance of the tunnel, which smelled of fuel. The military said it’s residual and that it’s regularly testing to make it’s safe to be inside.

Lt. Cmdr. Travis Myers, of Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command, took reporters through the Red Hill pump room. It’s not far from the underground fuel storage facility that leaked into the well.

Crews engineered a system to prevent contaminated water from flowing to the distribution system, which feeds homes and businesses.

“We have taken the distribution system, we have removed a section so we have physically isolated ourselves from the distribution system,” said Myers.

Navy crews also showed where Navy divers squeezed themselves down a hole and were using giant hoses to suck out fuel from the contaminated water.

Outside, eight granular activated carbon filtering systems will start scrubbing 5 million gallons of water per day and then the treated water will be released into Halawa Stream.

Myers says the filtering will start in a few days.

“We had 600 million gallons of water from that rain event about one month ago. Five million gallons per day flow ― it’s a minimal amount of water,” he said.

Halawa Stream goes under the Moanalua, H-3 and H-1 freeways and into Pearl Harbor near the USS Arizona Memorial.

“The Department of Health’s permit does not allow for pollution into the stream,” said Kurano.

But many residents are worried and the Navy, state and EPA say they will be monitoring the water with test results that will be available an hour.

It’s unknown how long this part of this cleaning process will take and government officials say it’s a first step to preventing the contamination from spreading.

They add while the treated water is safe for the environment, it’s still not safe for people to drink.

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