Those impacted by Red Hill water crisis plead for more ‘proactive’ help from Navy

Lawyers representing nearly 200 families affected by the water contamination organized a meeting for residents to share their stories.
Published: Aug. 16, 2022 at 10:46 PM HST|Updated: Aug. 17, 2022 at 10:44 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Lawyers representing nearly 200 military families said the Navy is continuing to fail the people affected by last year’s fuel spills.

The law firm Just Well Law organized a meeting Tuesday night at the Keehi Lagoon Memorial Park for residents to share their stories.

Attorney Kristina Baehr is joining the Honolulu law firm led by Lyle Hosoda to press the Navy to do more.

“The Navy has accepted responsibility for what happened, but the Navy has not accepted responsibility for the extent,” said Baehr.

Active-duty service member Amanda Feindt said since last year’s fuel spills her family moved from Ford Island to Colorado.

“People are really sick, people will continue to get sick, and people will deal with this stuff for the rest of their lives, if the Navy does not act in a proactive manner,” Feindt said.

The mother of two said her husband has had five medical procedures since being exposed to the fuel-tainted water.

“We’ve been on a wild goose chase to find the source of his internal bleeding,” said Feindt. “And the source of his significant pain that he lives with every day.”

Feindt and her family aren’t alone.

“It seems to come in waves,” said Lou Tuttle who still lives in Radford Housing. “A couple of weeks goes by all my kids, everybody’s fine and then something happens.”

Tuttle said just yesterday she had to bring her 15-year-old son to the hospital because he broke out in rashes about 40 seconds into his shower.

“My son was burned all over his back, his chest,” said Tuttle. “Just from being in the shower for that short space of time.”

Baehr said families are being forced to stay in the homes where they got sick.

“The Navy is not providing a safe alternative that’s affordable for them,” said Baehr. “If they try to move of their own volition, the privatized landlords, the Navy’s partners are charging them to move out and sending them to collections if they’re not able to pay it.”

The state and Navy have been regularly testing homes in the areas affected by the spills and have been posting results online.

Authorities said since giving all clear to neighborhoods months ago, they have found no more jet fuel in the pipes.

Meanwhile, critics said the military and the state owe more to those who are dealing with lingering illnesses.

“The number of people going to the hospital is not a good way to measure, or to even be able to discuss whether or not the solution for cleaning up this oil spill was effective or not,” said Walter Chun, an occupational safety and health consultant.

“So, that’s what we’re doing, we’re just waiting to see how many people get sick.”

The Navy plans to submit a revised defueling plan to the state by the end of the month.

Hawaii News Now reached out to the Navy for comment and are waiting to hear back.

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