National Guard to test Waiawa wells, spigots for ‘forever chemicals’

The Army National Guard wants to test drinking water in parts of Waiawa for toxic PFAS forever chemicals.
Published: Feb. 23, 2023 at 5:18 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2023 at 8:04 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Army National Guard wants to test drinking water in parts of Waiawa for toxic PFAS “forever chemicals.”

It’s investigating to see if residential water wells were contaminated from firefighting foam years ago.

A military spokesman told Hawaii News Now the groundwater at the Hawaii Army National Guard Training Facility in the Pearl City Industrial Park tested above screening levels for PFAS last year.

It came from firefighting training with a toxic fire suppressant, or AFFF, which stopped in 2008.

“It wasn’t a spill. It was a chemical used by our soldiers in training,” said Jeff Hickman, director of Public Affairs at Hawaii Army National Guard.

“We released the chemical. We are going to find out as much information about it to make sure people keep safe,” he added.

The agency is asking for permission to test 11 private wells, one Board of Water Supply well and outside water spigots from roughly 60 homes along Waiawa Road in Lower Waiawa Gulch and Waiawa Villlage.

It’s more than a mile downhill from the facility.

Last week, members of the Hawaii Army National Guard went door-to-door on Waiawa Road and left fliers at homes about drinking water testing for PFAS.

“Out of an abundance of caution we wanted to test those wells,” said Hickman.

Some residents knew about the testing while others like Harley Broyles didn’t.

“I think they really need to operate with caution and malama this land like they haven’t been doing so far,” said Broyles, who lives on Waiawa Road.

The testing is part of a national effort to test for PFAS at Army National Guard bases across the country.

Forever chemicals don’t break down in the environment and have been linked to increased cancer risk. The Sierra Club says it’s good the Hawaii Army National Guard is being proactive, but says one test isn’t enough.

“I think we need to get information about where these chemicals may be, if they’ve hit the groundwater, if they’ve contaminated the wells,” said Wayne Tanaka, director of Sierra Club of Hawaii.

Officials say test results should take about three months and it’s free.