Navy begins flushing water from Red Hill Shaft into Halawa Stream
The Navy began flushing water from its Red Hill Shaft over the weekend in an attempt to clear fuel contamination from the well.
The state Department of Health granted the Navy a permit Thursday to flush the shaft, which has been shut down since late November after military housing residents complained of jet fuel in their tap water.
The Navy demonstrated Friday how it will run water from the shaft through carbon filters to remove contaminants, and then discharge it into the Halawa Stream.
Travis Hilton, with Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Pacific, says the flushing process is just the first step in clearing the Red Hill Shaft of contaminants.
"The objective of this first step is to counter the potential for contaminants to migrate offsite. And as we collect more data, we will develop remediation strategies not just for the groundwater, but where the fuels may be hung up in the rock formation," Hilton said.
The Navy is allowed to dump up to 5 million gallons of water a day into the Halawa Stream.
Officials say the flushed water will be carefully monitored to ensure that contaminants do not enter the waterway.
DOH officials say the water must meet certain criteria before being discharged, but it will not be drinkable.
Critics, including U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, have expressed skepticism of the plan.
"You should not see any oil sheens in any of our streams, period. If you do see any oil sheens in this stream or anything else, please contact the Department of Health. We have people to respond to any type of oil release event, not just this one," said Matt Kurano with the state Department of Health. "I want everybody to know that the Department of Health takes a healthy skepticism, not necessarily pessimism, but skepticism to everything that may impact our water resources."