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Tenants sue Kapilina Beach Homes over tainted Navy water

DOH personnel collect water samples at Kapilina Homes 120921
Department of Health
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Department of Health workers collect water samples at Kapilina Beach Homes in Ewa Beach on Dec. 9, 2021.

HONOLULU — Residents of an Oʻahu housing complex are asking a judge to stop their landlord from charging them rent until their tap water is safe from contamination.

Kapilina Beach Homes in ʻEwa Beach used to be Navy housing. The Navy entered into a partnership with a private entity that also allows civilians to be tenants.

Attorney Jim Bickerton said residents continue to be charged rent and utilities except for water while their homes are “unfit for human habitation.”

Plaintiffs Xavier Bonilla Lozano, Taeler Owens and Chelsea Campbell filed the class-action lawsuit against the landlord, a subsidiary of Carmel Partners – a national real estate company.

The Navy's Red Hill fuel storage tank facility is blamed for petroleum-tainted water in and around Pearl Harbor.

Kapilina representatives couldn't immediately be reached for comment Wednesday.

Bickerton said a hearing is court hearing is scheduled for Friday on an emergency motion asking a judge to block the landlord from charging the residents an exit fee of two months' rent or requiring them to release Kapilina from injury claims if residents want to end their leases.

The Kapilina community includes more than 1,400 homes and includes a mix of civilians, reserves, veterans and active-duty military.

Starting in late November, people on the Navy's water system complained that their tap water smelled like fuel or reported physical ailments such as nausea and rashes after ingesting it.

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Jason Ubay is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Send your story ideas to him at jubay@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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