Dec 03, 2021 1 min, 30 secs

Residents in navy housing this week started complaining of a fuel-like odor coming from their tap water.

On Wednesday, Hawaii’s department of health said that a sample of navy tap water from an elementary school had tested positive for petroleum product.

Rear Adm Blake Converse, Pacific Fleet deputy commander, told a town hall meeting on Thursday the navy had taken the Red Hill well offline on Sunday because it was the closest well to affected housing areas.

The navy will flush clean water through its distribution system to clear residual petroleum products from the water, Converse said, and will follow that procedure with testing to make sure the water meets Environmental Protection Agency drinking standards.

But the navy on 22 November said a water and fuel mixture had leaked into a fire suppression system drain line in a tunnel at a massive fuel storage facility three miles inland of Pearl Harbor.

So far, the navy said, it had received calls about a fuel odor or physical ailments from 680 homes in navy housing and 270 in army housing on the navy’s water system.

The department has started distributing bottled water and said Marines would set up showers and laundry facilities connected to clean water.

Burness said she had started seeing comments on social media from military families saying their tap water smelled like fuel after her daughter complained of feeling sick.

She pointed to a Monday email from the commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam that told residents the navy was testing water samples but it had no immediate indication the water wasn’t safe.

“Since then, the navy has aggressively increased sampling, testing, communication to families and others impacted, as well as started response teams of experts to address the issues we all are facing,” the command said in a statement.

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