Activists mark one-year anniversary since whistleblower revealed Red Hill fuel leak

Activists demand action one year after reported Red Hill fuel leak
Published: Oct. 8, 2022 at 9:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It’s been nearly a year since a whistleblower revealed Navy officials knew a fuel leak at its Red Hill storage facility was contaminating Oahu’s water supply.

Today, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and dozens of residents gathered outside the Pearl Harbor National Memorial Visitor Center to send a message to the U.S. Navy.

“For one year, all we’ve been given, all we have are words and verbal assurances, none of which have kept us safe. And when those words turned out to be untruths, wishful thinking, misrepresentations and lies, lives are upended,” said Wayne Tanaka, director of Sierra Club of Hawaii.

Demonstrators expressed frustration and feel their concerns are being ignored.

“Here we are a year later, there’s still 100 million gallons of fuel in that facility right over our drinking water aquifer. And it looks like it’d be another two years before the fuel is taken out of there. So that’s like a total of three years would have elapsed with that fuel, sitting right above our precious water resources,” said Ernie Lau of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.

The group unveiled petitions with hundreds of signatures demanding the Navy provide medical support and other water sources for residents still experiencing health and water contamination issues.

“To demand what is right for the lives of our people to demand what is right for the lives of our future generation. But we can’t do this alone,” said Nani Peterson of the Oahu Water Protectors.

In September, the U.S. Defense Secretary established a Joint Task Force to defuel the Red Hill facility quickly and safely. Last Thursday, the task force said it conducted a series of Tightness Tests on active tanks and confirmed no leaks.

But many say the community is being left out of the process, breeding more distrust.

“Please include our Kanaka Maoli are Native Hawaiian and are born and raised locals to your seat as a joint task force Red Hill,” said Dee Momilani, a resident of Pearl City Peninsula.

On Monday, task force commander Rear Admiral John Wade said he’s considering adding a community advisory board.

“This is not going to end until this is fixed, until the tanks are defueled, until Red Hill is shutdown. We will stand and we will stand even stronger every single time,” Peterson said.