- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2022

The Navy on Tuesday began pumping almost 5 million gallons of treated water each day from a well in Hawaii contaminated by a petroleum leak that sickened military families on the island of Oahu.

It will be pumped from its Red Hill Shaft into a carbon treatment system that is designed to remove fuel from the extracted water, officials said.

The leaking fuel tanks are located above the Red Hill aquifer, which supplies drinking water to the Navy’s base at Pearl Harbor and other military bases on Oahu.

The Navy shut down the well in late November following reports of nausea, vomiting and other medical problems linked to the contaminated water. 

Hawaiian health officials said it was critical to pump water out of the Red Hill Shaft so that it doesn’t migrate to other parts of the groundwater aquifer.

“There is an urgency to remove contamination from the Navy’s Red Hill Shaft,” Kathleen Ho, Hawaii’s deputy director of environmental health, said in a statement. The Department of Health “is authorizing the Navy to begin pumping and treating water from the Red Hill Shaft to prevent contamination from spreading throughout the aquifer.”

Ms. Ho said state officials will continue to conduct oversight and ensure the actions “are protective of human health and the environment.”

The water will be monitored for contaminants as it passes through the filtration system and is eventually discharged into the neighboring Halawa Stream.

Navy officials said the discharged water will be less than 1% of the amount of water in the stream during peak rainwater flow.

State health officials said the pumping operation will be stopped if contamination levels exceed “acceptable limits” at any point.

• Mike Glenn can be reached at mglenn@washingtontimes.com.

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