Residents call on National Guard to act quickly in effort to test wells for ‘forever chemicals’

Hawaii National Guard is asking eight private landowners in Pearl City for permission to test eleven water wells for so-called forever chemicals known as PFAS.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 11:59 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Hawaii National Guard is asking private landowners in Pearl City for permission to test 11 water wells for so-called “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

The Hawaii Army National Guard held a public meeting Friday night to discuss their PFAS testing plans.

Brian Hunsaker, chief for Clean-up and Restoration for the Army National Guard, says they have found PFAS in groundwater levels on their property and now they want to test the nearest neighborhood’s drinking water.

“All of the wells are at least a mile away, and the quantities are pretty moderate,” said Hunsaker. “So, we really think that there’s a low possibility that there’s any PFAS that has made it that far.”

Hunsaker said Waiawa Road is a concern because those personal wells provide drinking water.

Those who live on Waiawa Road expressed frustration during Friday’s meeting.

“How could we really truly welcome everybody to this space and give them taro and fish that we farm and we grow and feed them with possible contamination?” asked one taro farmer.

“My son is 3 and I don’t want him to drink this water one more day,” said Harley Broyles.

“I’m more afraid for my children and my partner or my whole family was on a Waiawa Well drinking that water for six years,” said Andre Perez.

The National Guard informed the Board of Water Supply just weeks ago.

“And to their credit, they reached out to us because prior to this, this was not even on our radar screen,” said BWS Chief Engineer Ernie Lau.

If high levels of PFAS are detected, military officials said they’ll deliver bottled water to residents.

But because of a nationwide testing backlog, the military’s test results could take at least three months.

“They should look at maybe improving the outreach and communication efforts with the community and find ways to accelerate those test results,” said Lau.

The Board of Water Supply said it will offer its own labs to speed up the testing.

It’s also now testing its Pearl City wells for PFAS weekly.