State shows ‘worrying’ maps of fuel contamination plume from Red Hill spills

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) — Six months after the Navy’s contaminated water crisis became public knowledge, the state has released new maps showing the movement of contamination underground.

For the first time, the public is seeing Department of Health maps of the oil contamination plume based on Navy data. It shows the plume before last year’s fuel spills, at the height of last year’s spill, and what it looks like today.

“I was shocked, speechless just to see the extent of the contamination and how severe it was, it was really quite surprising,” said Marti Townsend, former manager of the Sierra Club of Hawaii.

“The contamination of the water supply existed before November 2021, it persists now and while the intensity has subsided, it is clear that the plume is spreading westwards,” she added.

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DOH maps show the contamination plume.(Department of Health)

At a fuel tank advisory committee convened by the state Department of Health, Water Supply Director and Chief Engineer Ernie Lau said he found the cards “disturbing and worrying”.

“Generally what I see from these is that there seems to be a westerly movement of the contaminant plume that looks like it’s going to cross Halawa Valley Road, isn’t it,” said Lau asked.

“The charted data certainly indicates that, particularly the monitoring of Well 12, the one outside of Red Hill Navy property, is basically our sentinel well now and it’s shown the effects that you were saying,” said said Fenix ​​Grange, who is with the health department. Risk assessment and emergency response.

The agency says the plume at the moment appears to be stable and contracting. The polluted area no longer supplies any water system. The Navy says that after rinsing and filtering, the water is safe to drink.

“As part of the 1,600 samples we took from the water distribution system, none of them showed any indications of JP-5 contamination in the water,” the captain said. James “Gordie” Meyer, commander of NAVFAC Hawaii.

Many community members are still unhappy.

“The army poisoned our water, poisoned our children, then lied about it,” said one woman, who testified at the town hall meeting.

There is also frustration that the Navy refuses to release its initial internal investigation.

“I want the January report since this has already been written and I don’t care if it’s only preliminary,” said Dr. Melanie Lau, a member of the Hawaii Water Advisory Committee.

The Navy had no schedule for draining fuel and shutting down the Red Hill tanks.

“I don’t expect them to be measured over multiple years for each of these milestones, but I can’t commit to a timeline now,” Meyer said.

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