The Navy has completed flushing drinking water systems in two neighborhoods at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam nearly a month after families complained of contamination, according to an update released Friday by the Navy. More than 20 neighborhoods have yet to flush water from their systems.
Since December 17, more than 1,600 military families and other occupants of base housing have been forced to stay in hotels and another 2,200 have been living in homes without clean water. Families have reported that the water makes them sick and smells foul of gasoline.
The source of the contamination appears to be the Navy’s World War II-era underground fuel storage facility known as Red Hill. The facility sits above the Pearl Harbor aquifer and has a history of environmental issues. In October, Hawaii Department of Health fined Navy over $325,000 for violations from Red Hill. Then, on November 22, the facility accidentally released 14,000 gallons of fuel and water from a fire suppression system drain line, according to the Associated Press.
According to the latest progress map, the Pearl City Peninsula, communities on the Aliamanu Military Reserve – more than 1,700 homes – have seen the distribution systems that serve them drained of contaminated water. Only after systems have been cleaned will the Navy drain water from homes, including running faucets and cleaning fixtures.
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If the Navy sticks to the current schedule, all homes should have new water in their pipes by the last week of January.
Navy says that the flushing is done with water from fire hydrants and the output passes through giant activated carbon filters before being put into storm sewers or allowed to run off on land.
In total, the service plans to bring 20 of these filter systems to the island of Oahu to clean the more than 25 million gallons of water it plans to flush.
“Once the areas are flushed, water samples are taken and sent to a certified lab on the mainland for testing to confirm that the drinking water meets federal and state standards,” an update said. Marine.
Assuming the samples return safely, the Navy will move to the rinsing and sampling houses. Rear Adm. TJ Kott, Commander Naval Region Hawaii, says the plan is to flush every home, including appliances like water heaters and dishwashers, whether problems have been reported or not.
The current calendar says the Pearl City and Aliamanu military reserve communities could be fully emptied and tested by the first and second weeks of January, respectively.
Four other neighborhoods, Red Hill Housing, Hale Moku, Hokulani and Moanalua Terrace, are now having their distribution systems drained. More than 20 other domains are on the list.
Related: More than a thousand military families in Hawaii stuck in hotels over vacation
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