‘Do your job’: Families sickened by Red Hill fuel contamination march on DC to demand clean water
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Red Hill families who were sickened by last year’s fuel-tainted water crisis are in Washington, D.C. to deliver a message personally to the EPA: Do your job.
Those mostly military families are now scattered across the country.
But they came together Tuesday to protest in the nation’s capital.
After gathering at Freedom Plaza, the group marched about a mile to EPA’s headquarters, stopping traffic briefly with massive signs that read “EPA: Do your job.”
Chris Anton and her 15-year-old son lived at Kapilina and say they were sickened during the Navy’s water crisis.
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“My kids got sick and had to go to ER,” Anton said.
“Itʻs emotional for a lot of people. Whenever we are in the moment, I remember how it feels. I remember how scary it is when your kid canʻt walk and you donʻt know whatʻs wrong.”
The Red Hill families and Oahu Water Protectors are joining a larger movement called SAFE, which started with a group of moms who believe their children’s cancers may have been caused by contaminated sites.
The state Health Department has declared the tap water from the Navy system as drinkable.
But there’s still a threat from 100 million gallons of fuel sitting in the Red Hill tanks .
Once at EPA headquarters, protesters remembered children who have died of cancer because of contaminated zones across the country. For the Hawaii protesters, that would be a worst-case scenario.
They’re worried about their lingering neurological and physical illnesses 10 months after the disaster.
“While I am speaking out about a situation where the military and or a military asset has poisoned my own children, Iʻm not against the military,” said Army Maj. Amanda Feindt, a former Ford Island resident.
“I come from a long line of military leaders and Iʻm proud. Iʻm damn proud.”
The Oahu Water Protectors will later take their protest to the White House and the Red Hill families will meet leaders in Congress, the Pentagon and the environmental community to discuss water contamination issues.
On Monday, the military announced Rear Admiral John Wade as the new commander of the Joint Task Force, who’s responsible for shutting down and decommissioning Red Hill. U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said the Department of Defense must move faster and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said she’s looking forward to the meeting.
Wade has got an uphill battle to safely and quickly defuel Red Hill and gain the community’s trust.
The military last said defueling could be done by July 2024.
The EPA did not respond to HNN’s requests for comment.
This story will be updated.
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