New aerial video shows contamination zone at Red Hill following spill of toxic fire suppressant

New video shows a bird's eye view of the contamination clean-up at Red Hill.
Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 5:55 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 3, 2022 at 12:06 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii News Now has obtained new video showing a bird’s eye view of the contamination zone at Red Hill following a spill of toxic fire suppressant.

The video shows just how the large the contaminated site is after a 1,100-hundred gallon spill of the suppressant, called AFFF. The military says it doesn’t know how long the clean-up will take.

Workers in white HAZMAT suits have been working around the clock on the clean-up.

They need to excavate a total of 3,000 cubic feet of soil.

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Federal firefighters responded to the spill of toxic firefighting foam concentrate (AFFF) Tuesday around 1 p.m.

The military says the spill happened 40 feet inside the mauka tunnel near what’s called Adit 6.

“I was appalled, but also not surprised,” said Mikey Inouye, of Oahu Water Protectors. “This is literally and figuratively clearly a much bigger problem than what the Navy has been portraying,” he added.

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Inouye says on the video he saw several cars on property and he believes a long plastic tarp from the tunnel was about 10 cars in length.

State health regulators say the tarp is to prevent any contamination from spreading.

“Tarps are used to temporarily cover areas that have not yet been excavated, for rain mitigation. A heavy rainfall could enable the AFFF to seep deeper into the soil,” added Navy Region Hawaii in a statement.

The military has not said yet why the spill happened or how long it went unnoticed.

But on Wednesday at a news conference, Hawaii News Now asked military leaders if they suspected the spill was happening actively for hours before its discovery?

“No indications that this was happening for hours. I don’t know the answer to that, but as soon as we got the report there was immediate movement of Fed Fire going to the scene,” said Rear Admiral John Wade, commander of Joint Task Force-Red Hill.

The excavated soil is going into more than 100, 55-gallon drums. It’ll be stored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and then eventually shipped to the mainland.

Multiple agencies are worried about AFFF because has it forever chemicals called PFAS which researchers have linked to cancer.

“I think first fear and frustration. This has gone on for too long,” said Army Major Amanda Feindt who lived at Pearl Harbor and said she was sickened during last year’s fuel spills at the Red Hill fuel facility.

Friday, the Navy started testing the soil for toxic chemicals called PFAS.

The Navy also has video of the actual spill from a closed-circuit camera. It’s being reviewed for public viewing, but a release date was not given.