The US Navy said it detected oil in a drinking water well near Pearl Harbor days after military families raised concerns that the water appeared to be contaminated.
The well has been isolated since Sunday after military households reported concerns, according to Converse, the deputy commander of the Pacific Fleet.
He said the incident appeared to be isolated, with tests conducted “throughout the rest of the Navy’s water supply system” coming back negative for the presence of oil.
Ahead of Thursday’s town hall, US Representative Kai Kahele, a Democrat, had sounded the alarm over the situation, warning that military families would face a “crisis of astronomical proportions” if they were unable to access the ‘potable water.
Speaking during a United States House Armed Services Committee Hearing On Thursday morning, he said he had “personally visited some of the affected service members and their families” and heard that the water was making them sick.
“Our military families, people are getting sick, animals are getting sick, and our military families need answers,” he said.
Earlier this week, the Hawaii Department of Health advised the thousands of people who depend on the water system stop using the water for “drinking, cooking or brushing your teeth”.
He added that those who have detected a “fuel smell” in the water should also avoid using the water for bathing, washing dishes, laundry and other purposes.
The health department issued the advisory after a preliminary analysis detected petroleum products in water samples taken from Red Hill Elementary School.
However, he stressed that the results were preliminary and samples had been sent to a lab in California for further analysis.
The ministry said it had received more than 175 complaints about it.
Converse said officials are working to restore clean water so “families and others affected can return to normal life with safe and reliable water.”
He added that officials were still working to determine what caused the contamination in the first place.