The Hawaii State Department of Health said Wednesday that petroleum products were found in a sample of water from a primary school near Pearl Harbor.
The department said it was the first step in a laboratory test from the University of Hawaii and it was not clear what kind of petroleum was in the water. The sample was taken Tuesday at Red Hill Elementary School. The department is still awaiting test results from samples sent by the California Laboratory
For three days, hundreds of naval residents complained of gas-like odors coming from their tap water. Some say they suffer from stomach aches and headaches.
The department said all the complaints came from people who use the navy’s water system, not from the Honolulou Municipality. Both the navy and the facility have 100-foot (30-meter) boreholes at the Moanaluwa-Waimalu reservoir under the Navy’s fuel storage tanks on the Red Hill.
The navy closed the Red Hill well on Sunday, “a spokesman said.”
The department advises all users of naval water not to drink tap water. It is recommended that you do not use it for bathing, dishwashing or laundry for people who can smell gasoline in water. The system provides water to 93,000 people in and around Pearl Harbor.
The Navy and the State Department of Health are both investigating the source of the pollution, although the Navy says it has found no fuel in the water. Elementary school receives its water from the Navy’s water system.
Dr. Diana Felton, Hawaii State Toxicologist, Petroleum users may experience nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, as well as dizziness and headache. Skin exposure can lead to itching and rash. People who have stopped drinking contaminated water should feel better after a few hours, she said.
As long as Felton knows what kind of petroleum it is, she doesn’t know if anyone can expect to have a long-term problem with drinking water, but she believes this is unlikely.
Last week, the Navy said a mixture of water and fuel flowed from the fire extinguisher line into a tunnel at the Red Hill Farm Tank Farm. The navy said no oil had entered the area.
The Honolulu Civil Beat reported last month that officials had been waiting for months to report the Pearl Harbor oil spill to the regional health department in January because they thought it would jeopardize Red Hill tanks’ licenses. The Hawaiian delegation requested that the Ministry of Defense investigate.
The tank farm contained 20 large underground oil tanks before World War II.