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Heightened levels of fuel contamination in groundwater and soil near Red Hill, health officials say

Honolulu Board of Water Supply
An image showing the locations of the underground BWS Halawa Shaft and Red Hill.

The state Department of Health says updated monitoring data from the Navy shows increased levels of fuel in soil vapor and groundwater in several areas around the Red Hill fuel storage facility.

But health officials say the samples collected between May 12, 2021, and Jan. 3 of this year show the fuel levels vary, and do not necessarily indicate a pattern as to how often or how much fuel is leaking.

Officials say there is no indication that water coming from the Board of Water Supply has been affected.

In May, the Navy reported a leak of more than 1,600 gallons at Red Hill, but later said in a hearing the number was closer to 19,000 gallons.

Officials say the discontinued use of the Navy’s Red Hill and Aiea Halawa shafts late last year, as well as the Board of Water Supply’s suspension of pumping at its Halawa Well, may have affected the monitoring data.

DOH is increasing data collection to better understand how contaminants are moving through area groundwater.

DOH Deputy Director Kathleen Ho says that for users on the Board of Water Supply’s system, the water remains safe to drink.

The Red Hill fuel storage facility sits just above the aquifer that supplies drinking water to Oʻahu.

Scott Kim is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact him at skim@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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