Posted On November 14, 2022 Personal Injury
Living on or near a U.S. military base, you reasonably assume that the drinking water provided to you by the federal government is safe for consumption. However, thousands of people living near the U.S. Naval Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, including the Army’s Aliamanu Military Reservation and Red Hill Housing, reported that their drinking water smelled like gasoline. Indeed, subsequent testing confirmed that the water was contaminated with petroleum products at nearly twice the safe level for drinking water. Unfortunately, the U.S. Navy seems to have done little to validate concerns that the contaminated water has caused nearby residents to suffer a wide range of health conditions, some of which may have a lifetime impact.
The law firm of Console & Associates, P.C., is actively investigating Red Hill contaminated water claims on behalf of service members and their families who believe they were impacted by the recent catastrophe. We recognize the frustration you and your family are experiencing as your questions continue to go unanswered, and we are here to help. Our mass tort lawyers have decades of experience aggressively pursuing compensation on behalf of individuals and families who were affected by contaminated water and other toxic torts. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we will diligently listen to your story, answer all your questions, and provide you with an overview of all your legal options.
In late 2021, the United States Navy began receiving numerous complaints of a “fuel or gasoline-like odor” coming from the water supply of the Navy’s Joint Base Pearl
Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) water system, including the Aliamanu Military Reservation,
Red Hill and Nimitz Elementary Schools, and nearby military housing. In response, the Navy, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, conducted very limited testing of the water supply. These tests revealed that the water contained some level of a “petroleum product.” After this realization, the Navy recommended that anyone served by the Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) water system, including the Aliamanu Military Reservation, Red Hill and Nimitz Elementary Schools, and military housing, “avoid using the water for drinking, cooking, or oral hygiene.”
Shortly after the Navy issued this warning, it conducted further testing. However, four of the six samples were damaged in transport, and the two samples that were tested came back negative for any petroleum. This information was made available to those who lived in the area, perhaps leading them to believe that the water was safe and that any further precautionary measures were unwarranted. Regardless, the Hawaii Department of Health demanded that the Navy shut down operations at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and treat all contaminated water. Further testing confirmed that the water contained levels of diesel fuel that were more than twice what is safe for drinking water.
Since then, the Hawaii Department of Health has done its best to get the Navy to adequately address the water contamination problem but has seemingly been frustrated by the Navy’s efforts. For example, on February 2022, the Hawaii Department of Health “determined that the U.S. Navy is in non-compliance with the DOH Emergency Order to safely defuel the Navy’s Red Hill facility,” requiring the Navy “hire a qualified independent contractor, to be approved by DOH, to prepare the Red Hill work plans, conduct assessments, and recommend system repairs and improvements to safely defuel the Red Hill facility.”
Based on the various accounts of the Navy’s response, it appears that the Navy has done little to address the problem. Some have even accused the Navy of knowing that the water was contaminated but failing to disclose the contamination to those who consumed the water on a daily basis.
In January and February 2022, the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a survey to learn more about the impact of petroleum contamination in the U.S. Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam drinking water system. The DOH/CDC study consisted of 2,289 people from 1,389 households, and the results were startling, to say the least.
Of the 2,289 people participating in the study:
The study notes that many of those who experienced new or worsening symptoms reported that the symptoms persisted for a period of more than 30 days. Some of the most common health issues reported include:
While there is no reason to doubt the results of this study, based on the short period since exposure, it is impossible to determine what the long-term effect of exposure to the contaminated Red Hill water will be. Indeed, a recently filed lawsuit by four families who suffered exposure to the contaminated water claims that the symptoms include:
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, there are more than 93,000 people who have been impacted by the contaminated water at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), the Army’s Aliamanu Military Reservation and Red Hill Housing. This makes the Red Hill contamination one of the larger water contamination catastrophes in recent history on U.S. soil.
Based on reports of the contaminated water at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, it appears that those who were exposed to the water and suffered adverse health effects may be able to pursue a claim against the federal government. These claims, however, are likely to be exceedingly complex and first require injured parties to exhaust all administrative remedies within the federal government. Therefore, working with an experienced Pearl Harbor-Hickam contaminated water attorney is highly recommended to ensure all procedures are followed and that individuals’ claims receive the attention they deserve.
If you or a loved one lived or worked near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in later 2021, you may have been exposed to drinking water that contained dangerous levels of petroleum. If so, this may have significantly increased your risk for a wide range of serious physical and mental health conditions. At Console & Associates, P.C., we’ve assembled a team of mass tort lawyers to assist those who would like to learn more about their right to pursue a contaminated water lawsuit against the United States Navy. We offer free consultations to all prospective clients, during which we will effectively advise you of your options and provide you with the information you need to make the best decision for yourself and your family. And, if you choose to allow us to bring a claim on your behalf, we will not bill you for our services unless we can connect you with meaningful compensation, either through a jury verdict or settlement. To learn more, and to schedule your free consultation, reach out to an experienced contaminated water lawyer at Console & Associates, P.C., at 866-778-5500. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.