The State Health Department of Hawaii faces a looming public health crisis after more than 1000 families residing around the Pearl Harbor-Hickam navy base fled their homes due to increasing reports of illness associated with consuming contaminated tap water.
On Monday, December 6th, 2021, the Hawaii State Health Department issued an order to halt operations at the navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage facility after more than 700 people reported intense headaches, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach aches, burning skin, and a foul smell, coming from tap water. However, Navy officials contested the order, suggesting that the contamination did not come from their Aiea-Halawa shaft.
On Wednesday of the same week, the Hawaii State Health Department released a report obtained from Navy tests on drinking water around the Aiea Halawa well. The report revealed that the water contained about 920 parts-per-billion of hazardous petroleum hydrocarbons and diesel range organics, which is more than double the accepted levels, standing at around 400 parts-per-billion, according to the State Health Department regulations.
The Aiea Halawa well is one of three groundwater resources supplying drinking water to military families around the Joint Base Pearl Harbor and surrounding areas. Therefore, contamination of such magnitude poses critical health risks to innocent individuals. Nonetheless, officials at the navy base in Hawaii decided to cease all its operations after the report, until the source of the contamination is identified and fixed.