A petition in support of clean drinking water.
We, the people of this place and people from afar, stand in support of clean drinking water for generations to come.
The U.S. Navy’s WWII-era underground fuel tank farm at Red Hill has contaminated the aquifer that provides drinking water to Oʻahu’s residents.
We believe that the only way to protect our precious water resource from further pollution is through the immediate restoration of our aquifer, and the decommissioning and cleanup of the Red Hill fuel tanks, and the environment that surrounds them.
We support the Honolulu Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernie Lau, and all those who are keeping the future of Hawaiʻi's people at the center.
Mālama I Ka Wai!
Protect our water!
Mālama I Ka Wai - Protect our water
Thousands of military personnel were displaced from their homes because the water in their faucets made them sick. These families – military families on the Navy water system – were poisoned by the armed forces they have dedicated their lives in service of. And that spill now threatens all of urban Honolulu. The Navy has spilled thousands of gallons of petroleum from their massive underground tanks, and that fuel has tainted our precious, irreplaceable aquifer: the pure drinking water that has sustained families on Oʻahu for all of human memory.
The clean, clear water that has nurtured life in the Hawaiian Islands for over a thousand years starts with rain, filtering through rock in a decades-long process to get to the aquifer. The aquifer is a body of water encased in permeable rock that feeds more than one million people on the island of Oʻahu. By definition, all parts of the aquifer are connected to each other.
Just 100 feet above the aquifer, is a massive underground fuel tank facility operated by the U.S. military in a place called Red Hill. Seven miles of tunnels, twenty tanks, with each tank holding 12.5 million gallons. Each tank would fill nearly 19 Olympic-sized swimming pools with fuel. They are buried deep in the mountain, meant to be safe from discovery and bombardment: all the U.S. was concerned about when they secretly built it in the 1940s.
They were so secret that the tanks' existence was classified until 1995. The culture of withholding information remains, and it has dangerously complicated the monitoring of leaks, spills, tank integrity, and other failures. It wasn't until 27,000 gallons of fuel were released in 2013 that quarterly reports began at the insistence of State of Hawaiʻi authorities.
In November 2021, military families began to suffer from nausea, dizziness, and rashes caused by fuel-contaminated water coming directly out of their household pipes. 14,000 gallons of jet fuel had been released a week earlier, but this did not result in notifications to families, or the general public that there had been contamination. Not acknowledged by the Navy until families were sick, and pictures of oil sheens in water glasses flooded the mainstream news. The aquifer had taken a direct injection of jet fuel, causing a crisis that will take decades and billions of dollars to remedy.
There have been 72 known releases of fuel, for a total of nearly 200,000 gallons of fuel unaccounted for. In the land? In the water? Anything in the land will eventually make its way to the water – our drinking water, or the ocean.
It is more than time for this massive source of pollution to be removed – for the fuel to be removed from the tanks, and for the tanks to be decommissioned, and for the land and the water to be cleaned. The Navy has made this a fight about national security, but how can we the people be secure if our water is poisoned and life begins to stress in a place where thriving is what we are about? It is not a win to flush pipes or filter every drop of water we use from now on. It is not a win to be fearful of the water that comes out of the tap.
Mālama i ka wai - Protect our water. It is our responsibility to be good stewards and to leave this place better than when we were born into it. This most definitely includes caring for the water. Water is life.