Critics claim Navy ‘caught in a lie’ about air quality monitors installed before de-fueling

Residents say they can smell pollutants in the air.
Published: Oct. 4, 2023 at 4:07 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 4, 2023 at 8:30 PM HST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Navy is installing roughly 52 air quality monitors. 12 of them will be at or near Red Hill and 40 on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

But critics say the Navy initially lied about it.

On Monday, residents at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam got a letter dated Sept. 23 and a map telling them that temporary air monitoring stations were being installed around residences for a six-month project. The Navy also sent a map identifying the 40 sites for temporary air quality monitors.

Navy Water Crisis

One monitor photographed by a resident is by Hickam Elementary on base. The monitors are in neighborhoods that were impacted by the state’s “Do Not Drink Advisory” for months after the Red Hill fuel spills tainted the Navy’s drinking water and sickened thousands of people in 2021.

“I understand the curiosity the project may generate,” said the letter.

But it said nothing about Red Hill’s de-fueling later this month.

Army Maj. Amanda Feindt, a former Ford Island resident, says air quality monitoring is something she’s been asking for since the beginning.

“It smells like chlorinated jet fuel, like, you could smell it,” said Feindt.

But she claims a Navy community liaison told her the air quality monitors were only for baseline testing — and not related to Red Hill’s defueling.

“She has told me and several other residents it has nothing to do with Red Hill defueling. It’s absolutely unrelated,” said Feindt, a former Ford Island resident.

“When you get caught in a lie, it just adds more controversy to the chaos,” she added.

Hawaii News Now confirmed the project is related to Red Hill’s de-fueling.

The Navy issued the following statement:

“The Navy is deploying air monitoring equipment to collect data and establish a baseline of current environmental conditions. The measure is part of a greater spill response strategy to identify, quantify and assess potential threats to public safety, should there be a spill during the defueling of Red Hill.”

The Navy says the project is in close coordination with the DOH and EPA.

The Navy did not have an immediate response to its critics.