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The Conversation

Potential repercussions of Navy water contamination on Hawaiʻi tourism

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As many on Oʻahu continue to deal with the petroleum-tainted water crisis and work toward finding a solution, questions have come up about the potential repercussions on Hawaiʻi’s visitor industry.

Mufi Hannemann, the President and CEO of the Hawaiʻi Lodging and Tourism Association, says he’s concerned recent headlines may cause tourists to doubt Hawaiʻi’s reputation as a safe and healthy place to go to.

When the former politician was asked about how decommissioning the Red Hill fuel tanks could affect Hawaiʻi’s relationship with the military and its role in national defense, he said there has to be a balance.

"That balance is, of course, being at the forefront of national security, our location out here and, you know, being part of our national defense strategy, but at the same time, what's really important is our basic right and responsibility to have pure clean drinking water," he said.

"And so that is that balance. And right now the scales are tipped in the other direction. You need to bring that back to ensure that everybody understands how important it is. We have the cleanest, purest drinking water in the world. So it's in jeopardy right now," he told The Conversation.

Hannemann says the military needs to put aside the cost of relocating the Red Hill fuel tanks and look at what will help protect the health and safety of Hawaiʻi residents and military families.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 9, 2021.

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