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Anniversary of the Red Hill water crisis

HONOLULU (Feb. 4, 2022) – Members of the Interagency Drinking Water System Team carry water sampling equipment to a resident’s home at the Aliamanu Military Reservation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Thomas)
Seaman Chris Thomas/Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
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HONOLULU (Feb. 4, 2022) – Members of the Interagency Drinking Water System Team carry water sampling equipment to a resident’s home at the Aliamanu Military Reservation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Thomas)

This weekend made a year since families began calling 911 about the odor of fuel in their neighborhoods.

No one knew that in the weeks to come about 90,000 families living in housing served by the military’s water system would be displaced to hotels because fuel had made its way into their tap water and was not safe to drink or use.

The Conversation went back into the archives to listen to those calls of concern.

Foster village resident Eric Nunes, who lived there for 15 years, said he called 911 when he smelled gas fumes coming from the Diamond Head side of his home.

"It was all dark and nobody was doing anything so we called it in that we had a strange smell," Nunes said. "Because it was fuel like it wasn’t like anyone was doing a BBQ or cookout so that is what was strange about it and so we called it in.”

A group called the Oʻahu Water Protectors marked the anniversary with three days of sign-waving.

On Sunday, they distributed water and ice pops to military families at the Navy Exchange. Mikey Inouye and about two dozen others with the Red Hill Coalition were on hand to engage military families.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 21, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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