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Families dealing with tainted water in military housing return to find a new problem

“It was definitely spreading rapidly,” one concerned mother said.
Published: Mar. 2, 2022 at 5:28 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2022 at 5:39 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some families forced from their homes by the Navy’s tainted water are returning to a new health threat.

The problem? Mold.

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the Navy says it hasn’t gotten any reports about mold related to the flushing and they say concerned families should contact their property manager.

But families HNN spoke with say they did make reports to housing management. They say they’re tired of the runaround and aren’t waiting for more clean-up.

After her family got sick from the fuel-tainted water, Navy mother and Ford Island resident Megan Hernandez discovered mold in January under her kitchen sink because of leaks and home flushing.

“That whole cabinet where maintenance had fixed the leak was filled with black mold, all over to the point of covering the whole wall and even starting to grow on the cabinet doors,” said Hernandez.

“It was definitely spreading rapidly,” she added.

This week, her test results came in from a private Texas lab, EnviroBiomic, Inc., showing a variety of molds from the water damage and that “reoccupancy is ill-advised until further remediation.”

“It’s pretty devastating,” she said.

Ford Island is one of four neighborhood zones out of 19 where the state Health Department agrees the water is safe to drink after flushing and testing.

The Navy says residents who come across mold or suspect it “should report the issue to their appointed housing property manager, so that a work order for the issue can be initiated.”

“To date, no current work orders related to flushing have been reported to housing management or to the Navy’s rapid response teams,” it added.

Hernandez says she did contact housing management. She decided that she won’t wait for remediation so her family will live in alternative housing on their own dime.

The Navy advises families re-entering their homes to flush their taps.

“That’s especially in situations where the water in your home has been has not been run for several weeks and it’s important to do that in order to avoid any issues any stagnant or standing water,” said Capt. Darren Guenther, chief of staff for Navy Region Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the state Health Department is asking the state Legislature for an emergency appropriation of $4.5 million to cover costs associated with the tainted water crisis through June 30.

“The emergency appropriation would make sure that we have enough funding to cover costs until the Navy reimburses DOH,” the department said, in a statement.

On Wednesday, the Senate Ways and Means and Judiciary Committees passed that bill and another bill banning underground fuel storage tanks.

Those measures move to the full senate.

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