Statements from the Hawaii Department of Health and the Navy on Friday said the permit will allow for the removal of contaminants from the freshwater aquifer beneath the storage facility.
On November 28, the Navy closed its Red Hill well after reports of people at the base experiencing nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and skin-related problems.
Tests revealed petroleum hydrocarbons and vapors in the water, the Navy said. U.S. Pacific Fleet Deputy Commander Vice Admiral Blake Converse later confirmed a petroleum leak was the cause.
“When the pumping begins, up to 5 million gallons of water per day will be pumped out of the Red Hill Shaft,” the Navy said in an email to DailyExpertNews.
“Water will pass through a granular activated carbon (GAC) filter system where it will be closely monitored and tested to ensure it poses no threat to human health or the environment before being discharged into the Halawa Stream.”
The permit has been approved by the Interagency Drinking Water Systems Team (IDWST), a coalition of the Hawaii Department of Health, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Hawaii Department of Health, the US Navy and the US military. It requires the water to be tested at “every step of the treatment process” and the operation to stop if the levels are not in line with the requirements of DOH.
IDWST said the plan will reduce contamination, protect plants and wildlife and lay the groundwork for understanding how groundwater has been contaminated.
In early December, the Navy discovered contamination at the Red Hill Shaft. Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply (BWS) later closed the Halawa Shaft, Oahu’s largest water source, after the Navy said it found “a likely source of the contamination.”
At the time, Admiral Mike Gilday called the situation “completely and totally unacceptable.”
DailyExpertNews has contacted the governor’s office about the permit, but has not received a response.
Ray Sanchez of DailyExpertNews contributed to this report.