BWS detects petroleum contamination in Moanalua Valley monitoring well

It’s the first time a BWS testing well has ever detected contamination. And it’s the latest ripple in the ongoing Red Hill crisis.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 2:10 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 4, 2022 at 11:27 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Board of Water Supply said it has detected petroleum contamination in a groundwater monitoring well in Moanalua Valley ― a discovery the agency called concerning.

It’s the first time a BWS testing well has ever detected contamination.

And it’s the latest ripple in the ongoing Red Hill crisis.

Also detected in the water were polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), chemicals found in gas and crude oil that could be carcinogenic.

Officials said the levels, confirmed last month, are low and below EPA action.

“This new data raises the level of concern,” Ernie Lau, BWS chief engineer and manager told Hawaii News Now.


“It was kind of unexpected. We didn’t think it was there. This new information will show there needs to be some investigation on the east side of the (Red Hill) facility, too.”

The monitoring well where the contamination was found is about 1,500 feet southeast of the Red Hill facility.

The state health department had previously said the contamination from last year’s Red Hill fuel spills appeared stable, but Lau says there needs to be more investigation west of the Red Hill Fuel tanks toward Halawa and now southeast toward Moanalua.

“This story may not get better before... It may get worse before it gets better,” he said.

There are no immediate changes planned to how BWS operates and said the civilian drinking water system.

But Lau said the detections of contaminants in the monitoring well are “warnings we cannot ignore.”

BWS also said it has met with the EPA and DOH to share the new data.

“DOH and EPA agree that at the very low levels detected, it is not expected to cause any health effects,” BWS said.

DOH and EPA added that there’s no current health emergency , but that it takes the “information seriously” and is trying to determine appropriate next steps.

The Navy has roughly 20 monitoring wells around Red Hill while BWS has 2 with 9 more planned in the future.

“A lot of the Navy’s efforts have been drilling and installing them (test wells) on Navy property, but we need to look outside of Navy property,” said Lau.

Community groups like Oahu Water Protectors are shocked and have been pushing more accountability from the Navy which is working toward defueling and shutting down Red Hill.

“What’s happening here on Oahu is really a crime against humanity,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale of Oahu Water Protectors.

“No honesty coming from the military about the magnitude of this disaster,” she added.

Copyright 2022 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.