The Navy has identified the source of petroleum hydrocarbons that contaminated the water distribution system at Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Hawaii. Steps are underway that would restore potable drinking water at the base’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility well to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, the Navy said in an announcement. The action comes even though the Navy’s tests showed that the petroleum contamination was “roughly four to 10 times below” Hawaii’s health standards, according to the announcement.
The action came in response to a state order that the Navy suspend operations at Red Hill until measures are taken “to treat contaminated water … and safely remove fuel from the 20 underground storage tanks” there, according to a Hawaii health department statement. The Navy has challenged the state order.
Hawaiian health officials nonetheless believe the contamination is unsafe.
“Until there is adequate evidence that the water is safe to drink, [the department of health] recommends all Navy water system users should avoid using the water for drinking, cooking, or oral hygiene,” the state’s announcement said. Hawaii officials also said that no one should use the water for bathing, washing dishes or laundry if they smell “a fuel-like odor.”