The U.S. Navy made a shocking announcement Thursday that fuel was contaminating military families’ drinking water at a well near the Pearl Harbor naval base in Hawaii.
Rear Adm. Blake Converse told reporters at a press conference late Thursday that the Navy had “pretty conclusive indications that there are volatile petroleum products” in the drinking water near the base. According to Converse, the well had been taken offline due to contamination.
“It was just getting worse every day,” Cheri Burness, naval wife, said.
Residents started complaining about a peculiar gasoline-like smell in their drinking water following a Nov. 22 fuel leak in the Red Hill underground storage facility near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
Burness said that she along with many other families had complained to the Navy about the drinking water but had received very little communication from officials, who assured her the water was fine.
People are suffering, and Hawaiʻi deserves answers and transparency immediately. pic.twitter.com/IpfXzJY06p
— Congressman Kaiali‘i Kahele (@RepKahele) December 2, 2021
“All they had to do was say; ‘We see that there’s a problem, we don’t know what it is and we’re going to do whatever it takes to find out and fix it.’ That’s all they had to do. And instead, we got: ‘Nope. Looks good. Smells fine. Bye,’” Burness said.
The Navy confirmed that it had received health complaints related to the water supply from over 900 homes that use the Navy’s water system. Converse assured the Navy would clean out its water system to get rid of the petroleum products, a process that is expected to take over a week.
The announcement came after a call by Democratic Hawaii Rep. Kai Kahele, who warned of a “crisis of astronomical proportions” if families lost access to drinking water.