US agencies investigate Navy fuel leak’s effect on civilians

HONOLULU (AP) — U.S. public health officials on Tuesday began investigating how civilians have been affected by the leakage of petroleum into Pearl Harbor’s tap water from a Navy fuel storage facility.

The Hawaii state Department of Health said it asked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry to conduct the study.

The department said the officials will survey civilians living in homes served by the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water distribution system. They will also try to reach people who may have been exposed to contaminated water at work or school.

The Navy’s water system serves some 93,000 people in residential homes, offices, elementary schools and businesses in and around Pearl Harbor.

Starting in late November, about 1,000 people complained that their tap water smelled like fuel or reported physical ailments like nausea and rashes after ingesting it.

Shortly after the Navy said it detected petroleum in a drinking well that serves its water system. Navy officials say they believe leaks from its Red Hill tank farm near Pearl Harbor polluted the well.

Dr. Diana Felton, the state toxicologist, said it’s vital that authorities track how the incident affected all Hawaii residents.

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