Honolulu utility finds chemical in Red Hill monitoring well

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By AUDREY McAVOY, Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) — The Honolulu Board of Water Supply said Thursday it detected a small amount of a chemical naturally found in coal, crude oil and gasoline in a monitoring well near a storage facility for Navy fuel that spilled jet fuel last year.

The utility said in a press release that it found “very low levels” of chemical polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. He said he shared his data with the state Department of Health and the US Environmental Protection Agency and both agencies agree that these low levels are not expected to cause health effects. Still, they agreed the situation required continued attention and monitoring, the utility said.

The Water Supply Board said the discovery heightens its concern that fuel spilled from the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility is migrating through the aquifer below the tank farm.

The utility has three wells that tap the aquifer to provide drinking water to more than 400,000 Oahu residents.

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He closed those wells in December when he learned fuel had leaked from the tank yard into a Navy drinking water well providing water to 93,000 people on and near Joint Base Pearl Harbor. -Hickham. The leak sickened some 6,000 Navy water users with nausea, headaches and other symptoms.

The utility fears the fuel is traveling through porous volcanic rock in the aquifer from the area around the Navy well to its own wells, potentially poisoning Honolulu’s water supply. He called on the Navy to quickly remove fuel from tanks to reduce the threat of further leaks.

The Board of Water Supply said it found the chemical in water samples taken from a well about 1,500 feet (457 meters) southeast of the Red Hill facility. He also found total petroleum hydrocarbons in the same samples.

Ernie Lau, the chief engineer for the Board of Water Supply, called the detections “warnings that we cannot ignore”.

“Our precious and irreplaceable water resources are at risk of further contamination each day that fuel remains in Red Hill’s reservoirs,” he said in a statement. “We urge the Navy to quickly refuel and permanently close the Red Hill facility – Ola I Ka Wai,” he said, using the Hawaiian phrase that means “water is life “.

In April, the Army accepted an order from the state of Hawaii to drain the tanks and close the World War II-era tank farm. But he says December 2024 is the earliest possible time to get there.

A Navy investigation released last month found that a series of cascading errors from May to November last year caused 20,000 gallons (75,700 litres) of fuel to spill into its water well drinkable. He blamed mismanagement and human error for the episode.

The leak was the most recent in a series of Red Hill fuel spills dating back to 2014.

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