Teams prepare to move first wave of displaced military families back home

For 135 homes in the Red Hill neighborhood, the military is hoping for the go ahead for families to move back home as early as Friday.
Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 5:28 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2022 at 5:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The military is hoping for the go-ahead from the state as early as Friday to move 135 families back into their homes in the Red Hill neighborhood.

A Navy spokesman says rapid response teams are preparing to help.

After flushing and testing, a multi-agency team made up of the Navy, Army, state Department of Health and EPA recommended the DOH lift the advisory for Red Hill ― one of 19 communities covered by the guidance.

“The complete data package is in for Red Hill. The interagency team has taken a look at all the sampling data from the distribution system as well as the homes and facilities and endorsed that data,” said Capt. Darren Guenther, chief of staff, commander for Navy Region Hawaii.

A DOH spokesperson said health officials sent questions to the multi-agency team about the data and is waiting for a response.

It’s been more than two months since contaminated water sickened and displaced thousands of families. Once they get a green light, military advocates say families will be required to move home in 48 hours because the lodging assistance will stop ― regardless of their fears.

That’s not sitting well with everyone.

“They are only testing 10% of the homes so they are literally going to be forced into their own homes,” said Kate Needham, executive director of the Armed Forces Housing Advocates.

Meanwhile, Hawaii Congressman Kai Kahele got an explanation from Department of Defense about why there’s no video of the two spills last year believed to have contaminated the Navy’s waterline.

“In January 2021, a contractor cut a cable providing power to 44 of 57 closed-circuit cameras, including those covering the area of the May 6 and November 20 incidents,” the DOD told Kahele.

“Because of the loss of power, there is no footage of either incident.”

Kahele’s response: “I find that answer incredibly unbelievable.”

He also asked if detergents were used in the cleanup and the DOD says after the November spill, it used a common household cleaner.

“The cleaning product Simple Green was used during the tunnel clean-up,” said the DOD.

Kahele says the responses reinforce his belief that the Red Hill facility must be permanently shut down.

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