U.S. Rep. Ed Case stated Sunday that the Navy’s credibility has been compromised and that outside agencies must work together to investigate how petroleum contamination of the water system at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam and its surrounding areas.
Case met with local and military leaders on Saturday to discuss the current water crisis. He spoke to residents of Task Force Ohana’s emergency management center and visited Aliamanu Military Reservation in the Army.
Case spoke with local families at the Navy’s Halsey Terrace community as well as personnel responsible for the U.S. Department of Defense response efforts.
Case spoke to reporters Sunday at the Merchant Street post office. He said that the first priority is the families and communities affected by the loss in clean water.
Case stated, “They are sick, their pets are dead, they have been dislocated, and they have questions…they need to be taken care of long-term,”
He demanded a wider range of expertise and outside evaluation to examine the Navy’s handlings of fuel storage and pipeline operations. The Navy’s Inspector General has begun an investigation, but it is not enough. “We may want to go beyond that and have independent evaluations.”
He said that it was “unacceptable” to assume that the Navy would solve all the problems.
The Navy, the State Department of Health, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency need to improve their cooperation immediately.
Case stated that “the navy has not been forthcoming with test results, or any other information requested from DOH and EPA.” “This is a serious failing that we cannot continue to accept.”
He demanded a “far more complex construct” for water quality testing. This would include how often it is performed, what type of tests are used, and the release of the results immediately.
Speaking Sunday at a Hokulani Community Center town hall, Secretary of Navy Carlos Del Toro promised greater transparency in the recovery process. He stated that all water quality tests results will be made public by Navy in the future.
Although Case recognized the Red Hill facility’s national security importance, he reiterated the belief of the Hawaii Congressional delegation that the Navy is in an “organizational crisis” regarding its management of the tank farm.
Despite previous efforts of Hawaii’s delegation to secure the facility from WWII, the DOD has not been able to raise the funds necessary. He said that secondary containment of tanks should be prioritized along with ensuring the integrity and safety of the pipelines that fuel the fuel to the piers at Pearl Harbor.
He stated that “That’s the Navy’s handling Red Hill has not instilled public confidence.” Case stated, “We all know Red Hill is critical to our national security…but the calculation of conserving a national security asset poses unacceptable risk to us, our drinking water and our lives, so that’s not something I or anyone else should accept.”