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US Army Responds to Thousands Poisoned in Hawaii Water Contamination

In response to a significant environmental and public health crisis where 6,000 individuals were poisoned by a jet fuel leakage into the drinking water at Pearl Harbor in 2021, the U.S. Army has undertaken decisive action. 

The Joint Task Force Red Hill has drained more than a hundred million gallons of fuel from a large underground complex in Hawaii, marking a critical step in addressing the aftermath of the contamination.

The operation aims to rectify vulnerabilities in the facility’s dilapidated pipeline setup, which had been at risk of additional leaks. 

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Credits: DepositPhotos

Following the defueling process, the management and decommissioning responsibilities of the tanks have been transferred to Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill, led by Rear Adm. Stephen D. Barnett. 

The facility will now be permanently shut down, and the underlying aquifer will be restored by the new command.

Vice Adm. John Wade emphasized the need for swift and safe closure of the facility to ensure clean water and environmental renovation.

The decision to drain the tanks came after a 2021 spill ignited widespread concern in Hawaii over the risk to the water supply to Honolulu.

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Credits: DepositPhotos

The facility is designed to shield fuel tanks from potential aerial attacks.

It is located above an aquifer that provides water for 400,000 residents in urban Honolulu.

A 2021 investigation into the fuel leak attributed it to a sequence of errors, which ended up contaminating the Navy’s water system. 

Affected residents reported various health issues, including nausea, skin irritations, and vomiting. 

Credits: DepositPhotos

While the appropriate officers were reprimanded, there were no permanent consequences of the issue.

However, in its wake, the event caused the Honolulu Board of Water Supply to stop taking water from the affected aquifer.

This ended up causing the city to seek alternative sources of water. 

This aquifer had been a critical asset, supplying approximately 20% of the city’s water.

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