Honolulu — The U.S. Navy has been forced to shut down the use of two underground jet fuel storage tanks in Hawaii after families complained their water smells and looks like it contains fuel.
Among those affected were Crystal Murray and her four children, who left their home about a week ago after spending days unknowingly drinking, cooking and bathing in toxic water.
“The whole house started smelling literally like a mechanic shop,” Murray said. “Then the next morning I ended up in the hospital.”
The Navy admitted its water was contaminated by jet fuel leaking from a transfer facility built during World War II and it was flowing into the faucets of thousands of military homes. The Navy fuel tanks sits 100 feet above an aquifer that, according to the Water Supply Board, supplies water between 400,000 and 450,000 residents and visitors in Honolulu.
The military has mobilized troops to distribute water that’s safe so mothers like Jamie Simic can bathe their children. “How long have I been poisoning myself and my kids,” Simic said through tears.
Families have expressed their anger to military officials at recent town hall meetings.
“When we could smell the fuel in the water I was told we cannot get told anything. ‘We cannot give you any information.’ Why is that OK?” one resident asked. “I have an 18-week high-risk pregnant wife and I’m being told, ‘You can use the water. Go away.'”
Military officials have tried to reassure residents, but for many the reassurance came too late.
“I understand your frustrations and concerns and I share them. We are working day and night to figure out what the source of odors [is],” Rear Admiral Blake Converse told families.
Like the Murrays, thousands of military families have been forced to move from their contaminated homes. Murray is not sure she will move her family back.
“I think I’ll probably take my own money and just kind of check the water,” she said.