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'The stakes are high:' Local environmental advocate discusses Red Hill's toxic foam cleanup

Red Hill Well water sampling
Petty Officer 2nd Class MarQueon/Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
A Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command contractor collects a water sample from a granular activated carbon filter as a part of real-time monitoring at Red Hill Well.

It’s been almost a month since the military began a probe into the release of toxic firefighting foam concentrate at Red Hill.

The Army is expected to provide a report to the Navy any day now. That spill is the latest at the Navy’s underground fuel facility.

Last year the holidays began with fuel-contaminated drinking water for more than 90,000 customers on the military’s water system.

That triggered thousands of families to relocate temporarily to Oʻahu hotels.

Throughout the many decades, the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi has kept up pressure on the military to be more transparent with the public and to speed up the defueling and shutdown of Red Hill.

The Conversation spoke to Director Wayne Tanaka to reflect on what the community has gained and lost during this water crisis and the recent spill of toxic firefighting foam concentrate.

"I think the stakes are so high, you know, we're looking at things that will not only impact life, as we know it, like every aspect of life is touched by water and our access to clean water," Tanaka said.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 29, 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
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