Families demand transparency, answers after Red Hill groundwater samples detect ‘forever chemicals’

Groundwater samples recently released that detected “forever chemicals” come as no surprise to families affected by fuel facility.
Published: Dec. 11, 2022 at 7:12 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Groundwater samples recently released that detected “forever chemicals” near the Red Hill Fuel facility come as no surprise to families impacted by the Red Hill crisis.

Nearly two weeks after 1,300 gallons of firefighting foam containing PFAS spilled from Red Hill, a letter dated Nov. 2, and addressed to the Navy from the state and EPA said the same toxins were found in groundwater samples taken last December — following increasing monitoring efforts.

“It doesn’t shock me one bit,” said Christine Roberts, who lives in Radford Terrace.

“It just alludes to how shady the Navy is.”

“It’s devastating,” added former Pearl Harbor resident Amanda Feindt.

“It’s so scary for the folks who still live in those homes.”

The letter obtained by HNN said PFAS or “forever chemicals” were detected on Dec. 20 and 27, 2021.

“For me, that was shocking,” said Board of Water Supply Manager and Chief Engineer Ernie Lau.

“To see that information was taken and available earlier this year and never disclosed to us, I was very disappointed.”

The toxic chemicals were found during monitoring testing after the May and November 2021 fuel spills from the underground fuel facility that sickened thousands of people in and around Pearl Harbor.

“My kids, they’ve been to over 100 doctor appointments since we left Hawaii,” said Feindt. “There’s been seven medical procedures, three major surgeries and you know, this isn’t over for us.”

“And so, hearing that is, you know, we’ve had a lot of questions about it so it’s sort of validating for us.”

“It’s hell to have to keep up with this and to be afraid every day if we’re still being poisoned and if I’m doing enough,” said Roberts. “I have kids, and it’s scary, it’s really scary.”

On Saturday, Lau led hundreds of demonstrators in the Walk for Wai.

He believes it’s possible for the military to defuel the Red Hill fuel facility immediately.

“They built it in three years, the entire facility in three years,” said Lau. “So why can’t they empty out 140 million gallons faster than the middle of 2024?”

Lau said the EPA and state Health Department will explain the letter before the water board in a meeting Monday. Hawaii News Now reached out to the Navy for comment and are waiting to hear back.