Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam has advised military housing residents to run the water in their homes “for about three to five minutes” at all taps at each location — both hot and cold, including baths and showers, according to a press release issued Tuesday afternoon.
The primary distribution water mains have been flushed (a third flush is ongoing), and no petroleum or contaminants were detected, the release said.
“To date, all tests of water samples conducted by both Hawaii Department of Health and the Navy have not detected petroleum constituents in initial testing. The Navy is pursuing more stringent tests by independent labs on the mainland to ensure water purity meets EPA standards,” the statement continued.
If residents detect any abnormal odors with their potable water, they are advised to report it and refrain from drinking and cooking with the water. The Navy is working on distributing water to affected areas and more information will be made available to those communities.
What You Need To Know
- The U.S. Navy said it received complaints as early as Sunday of a fuel or gasoline-like odor from consumers of the Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system
- An initial test performed Monday afternoon was inconclusive, according to a Department of Health statement
- The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Samuel Paparo, ordered an investigation into the release of 14,000 gallons of a mix of water and fuel that occurred on Nov. 20, 2021
- Any residents located in the affected areas should contact the Navy at (808) 448-2570 and the Department of Health at SDWB@doh.hawaii.gov to report complaints
Earlier, the Hawaii Department of Health told residents and others located in the U.S. Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam area to not use water after many complained of smelling a gasoline-like odor.
The Hawaii Department of Health said that anyone who uses the Navy water system should avoid using the water for drinking, cooking or brushing their teeth.
This comes after the Department of Health and the U.S. Navy said it received complaints as early as Sunday of a fuel or gasoline-like odor from consumers of the Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system, which includes Aliamanu Military Reservation, Red Hill Elementary School, Nimitz Elementary School and military housing.
The Department of Health said Navy water system users who smell a fuel odor should also avoid using the water for bathing, dishwashing, and laundry.
The Navy and Department of Health have launched a joint investigation into the extent and source of the odor complaints, including testing for petroleum components. An initial test performed Monday afternoon was inconclusive, according to a Department of Health statement. Samples have now been sent to a California lab, which will test for contaminant-specific results, and results are expected by the end of the week.
Also Monday, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Samuel Paparo, ordered an investigation into the release of 14,000 gallons of a mix of water and fuel that occurred on Nov. 20, 2021, which came from a fire suppression drain line located in the lower tunnel of the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility. The investigation will also review a May 6, 2021 fuel leak from a pipeline at the facility.
There have been many questions surrounding the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility, where the military built 20 steel fuel tanks underground, which are the equivalent of a 25-foot story building and store 250 million gallons of fuel, during World War II. Red Hill is located near Pearl Harbor and is above an aquifer that supplies drinking water to residents from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai.
Since the fuel tanks were completed in 1943 there have been numerous fuel leaks. In 2014, Red Hill leaked 27,000 gallons of jet fuel, and more recently in May 2021 a tank at Red Hill leaked as much as 1,000 gallons of fuel.
The Sierra Club of Hawaii has called for the closure of the Red Hill facilities. The Hawaii Board of Water Supply has asked the tanks be double lined or relocated away from the aquifer and to clean up the fuel that is already underneath the tanks.
Any residents located in the affected areas should contact the Navy at (808) 448-2570, (808) 448-3262 and (808) 448-2583 and the Department of Health at SDWB@doh.hawaii.gov to report complaints.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was updated to reflect new guidance for military housing residents. (Nov. 30, 2021)