Health care advocacy group warns of possible long-term impacts from jet fuel exposure

The health department says the water is now safe to drink and the Navy has repeatedly said any exposure to water that was tainted with jet fuel was short-term.
Published: May. 9, 2022 at 5:25 PM HST|Updated: May. 9, 2022 at 5:28 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some families sickened by the Red Hill fuel contamination are concern about long-term health affects and a research group says they’re right to worry.

Ariana Wyatt lives in military housing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. She and her family only drink bottled water even though the state Department of Health cleared her water for drinking in March.

She says they were sick even before Navy’s tainted water crisis came to light last November. The family takes pills for migraines, skin rashes and stomach issues.

For Wyatt’s 4-year-old daughter Indy, there’s lingering fatigue and leg pain.

“She was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. It’s an autoimmune disorder. They believe it was a trigger, a response from the water,” said Wyatt.

She says the Air Force granted compassionate release so the family can move to Alabama this summer, but she worries about long-term health impacts.

“I hate thinking long-term because Indy is only 4,” said Wyatt.

“I’m worried because she has so much life to live,” she added.

The state Health Department says the water is now safe to drink and the Navy has repeatedly said any exposure to water that was tainted with jet fuel was short-term.

But some experts disagree.

“I’m very, very concerned as a health care provider about the adverse outcomes long-term for this child and the other children,” said Chelsey Simoni, executive director, clinical nurse researcher and epidemiological toxicologist for HunterSeven Foundation.

The advocacy and research group is warning about possible long-term impacts like endocrine, dermatological, and neurological issues.

“The adverse health risks associated with young children are much higher,” said the group’s letter.

“The biggest thing that scares me is what we don’t know not so much for the population that can speak for themselves, but the population that can’t,” said Simoni.

With mixed feelings about their upcoming move, Ariana Wyatt is hopeful she can find specialty medical care for Indy.

“I feel relived, but I also feel a little bit of guilt because my family gets to go,” she said.

A Navy spokesperson told Hawaii News Now the Navy is working on a response.

Separately, The Navy has told the Department of Health it’s waiving its right to a contested case hearing over the defueling and permanent closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Health officials say that means the work to shut down Red Hill can begin without further delay. The Navy must deliver its plan to defuel by the end of June and a decommissioning plan by November.

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