Multiple admirals are set to testify publicly Wednesday about the status of a jet fuel leak from the Navy’s Red Hill reserve that’s believed to have contaminated the water in up to 93,000 homes of mostly military families just outside of Pearl Harbor on the island of Oahu.
“It’s a huge issue, a lot of people are suffering in silence,” Army Maj. Amanda Feindt told Fox News.
Feindt says that she and her 4-year-old daughter were sickened by the contaminated water at their Ford Island home on Dec. 13. Feindt said she suffered stomach cramps comparable to labor pains. She and her daughter vomited and became sick with diarrhea, abdominal pain and each ended up in the emergency room where they were treated for dehydration.
Army Maj. Amanda Feindt said she and her 4-year-old daughter were sickened by the contaminated water at their Ford Island home.
Prior to that incident, in May, Feindt says her 1-year-old son got a rash on his body and her husband suffered from an eye infection.
The family’s unexpected sicknesses were made worse when a doctor told them that porous items like sippy cups in their home and at Child Development Centers should be replaced because they might retain some of the toxic fuel and sicken children all over again.
“Would you drink clean water out of a previously used, red, clean plastic gas can?” Feindt asked Navy and Army personnel while speaking at a recent Army Task Force Ohana town hall.
The Navy told Fox News it’s investigating two jet fuel spills from the Red Hill reserve. The first spill was on May 6. The second was on Nov. 20, in which an estimated 14,000 gallons of fuel leaked.
The Red Hill facility holds roughly 180 million gallons of jet fuel and sits just 100 feet from an aquifer that provides the island with 77% of its clean water, according to the Department of Health.
The massive underground reserve was built in the WWII era and is considered critical to national security because of its strategic location.
The Hawaii Department of Health reports that starting Nov. 28, the first of about 500 total complaints began pouring in. People near the leak reported a “fuel or chemical smell from their drinking water.” Families have since reported a range of illness and small burns and irritation on children’s bodies.
“We’re doing everything we can to get our families back into a safe and reliable water source. That’s the focus of all our efforts,” Navy Capt. Bill Clinton, chief of public affairs for U.S. Pacific Fleet, told Fox News.
Feindt said her 1-year-old son got a rash on his body.
The Navy has begun the daunting task of flushing the water out of the 93,000 homes and buildings and then testing the water in each structure. If the test comes back dirty, the property will be reflushed. There have already been negative tests returned, causing delays. People will not be able to return home until Hawaii’s Department of Health ultimately rules the water supply safe. There is no timeline or estimated completion date.
“I just want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cmdr. Kirk Gibbs said at a recent Task Force Ohana town hall. “As we’ve gone through the holidays, again, I can only imagine what you all went through in many cases not being home with the Christmas trees and presents and the kids, I can’t even imagine.”
The Army is asking people to follow CDC guidelines by washing plastic and porous surfaces with warm soapy water and promised to reimburse for items that do not come clean.
The tainted Navy water system also provides water to Army, Marines, Air Force and civilian housing. At least 1,000 military personnel are living in hotels, according to the Navy.
Army Maj. Amanda Feindt expressed her concerns to Fox News.
On Dec. 2, Army Cmdr. Charles Flynn issued a voluntary evacuation order for the affected neighborhoods. On Dec. 9, Flynn added additional neighborhoods, including Ford Island. Army Task Force Ohana was established to update the people affected and address questions on a wide range of topics, like hotel reimbursement, laundry and pet care.
The Navy and Army are reimbursing service members that are staying at hotels. At a recent Task Force town hall, Army leaders said the Army is processing “hundreds” of claims every day and is providing $531 a night to displaced members – a 300% increase from the regular per diem because of Hawaii’s expensive hotel rates.
A warning posted not far from Pearl Harbor.
Feindt says she and her husband are staying at a hotel that’s costing them roughly $6,000 every 10 days. Their combined income allows them the ability to front-load the costs, but she worries about rank-and-file service members who might not have the means to pay for expensive hotel bills.
She’s also concerned about children and spouses who suffered physical illness that may need to be monitored for years or potentially a lifetime.
“I volunteered after 9/11… my children never volunteered to be poisoned,” Feindt told Fox News. “I’m fighting for the people who didn’t sign up for this.”
Matt Finn is a Fox News correspondent based in the Los Angeles bureau. Follow him on Twitter: @MattFinnFNC