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Lawyers for families affected by Red Hill crisis want Navy to evacuate homes on water system

Lauren Wright  Navy spouse whose family was sickened by jet fuel in their tap water pearl harbor
Caleb Jones/AP
Lauren Wright, a Navy spouse whose family was sickened by jet fuel in their tap water, points out a sheen in a sample of tap water at her home in Honolulu, Friday, July 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Caleb Jones)

A team of lawyers representing nearly 150 families affected by the Red Hill water crisis is asking the U.S. Navy to evacuate homes on the Navy’s water lines.

The University of Hawaiʻi Red Hill task force released water sampling data earlier this week. Their findings were consistent with a low concentration of jet fuel contamination in the Navy’s water system. Those results were quickly retracted without explanation.

The Navy and the state Department of Health have maintained that the water is safe.

The lawyers state their representatives continue to report acute symptoms associated with contamination. They said they will continue to work with the Navy to find a resolution to their injury and property claims.

Earlier this summer, Lauren Wright told The Associated Press she continues to be leery of the water coming out of the taps in her family’s U.S. Navy home. She says she doesn’t trust that it’s safe.

Wright, her sailor husband and their three children ages 8 to 17 were among the thousands of people who were sickened late last year after fuel from military storage tanks leaked into Pearl Harbor’s tap water.

The family has returned to their military housing after spending months in Honolulu hotels, but they continue taking safety measures including taking short, five-minute showers. They don’t drink their tap water or cook with it.

A Navy investigation released June 30 blamed the fuel leak and the water crisis that followed on shoddy management and human error. Some Hawaiʻi residents, including Native Hawaiians, officials and military families said the report doesn’t help restore trust in the Navy.

“I was at least hoping for some sort of remorse for the families and everybody involved in this,” Wright said after the report was released.

She said the ordeal has changed her view on the military from a decade ago when her husband first joined.

“I was the proud Navy spouse, you know, stickers and T-shirts,” she said. “I feel like the Navy has failed at what they promised every service member. They failed at a lot of things. And I’m not so proud.”

Kristina Baehr, an attorney who represents the military and civilian families who lodged claims against the Navy, said it was especially troubling to read in the June 30 report how pervasive the errors were.

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