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Red Hill monitoring results show elevated levels of petroleum chemicals in soil vapor and groundwater

The Hawaii Department of Health today released updated data obtained from the Navy that shows heightened levels of total petroleum hydrocarbons in both soil vapor and groundwater in recent months in the vicinity of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The sampling was conducted between May 12 and Jan. 3 following a fuel spill at the Red Hill facility.

The detections do not appear to paint a clear picture of whether the May fuel release at the Red Hill facility contaminated the groundwater and contributed to the current fuel contamination affecting the Navy’s Red Hill shaft and drinking water system that serves about 93,000 residents in neighborhoods in and around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“The recent detections are intermittent and do not present a clear pattern in occurrence or concentration,” according to a DOH press release. “For instance, elevated detections of fuel products in groundwater and soil vapor monitoring in individual sampling locations may drop to normal levels and then show up again in days or weeks.”

DOH stressed that there is no indication that the Honolulu Board of Water Supply’s drinking water has been affected. BWS supplies water to the majority of Oahu residents.

“I want to emphasize that for residents of Oahu who are on the BWS system, the water remains safe to drink,” said Kathleen Ho. “The long-term remedy to this issue is to render the Red Hill facility safe by removing fuel from the underground storage tanks. It is imperative that the Navy comply with DOH’s order.”

The updated data can be found here.

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