The U.S. Navy said petroleum was detected in the tap water system in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after hundreds of military families complained about the water.

Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Pacific Fleet deputy commander, told a town hall meeting on Thursday that the Red Hill well, which taps into an aquifer near the base, was shut off Sunday. The Navy will flush out the distribution system with clean water in a process that could take four to 10 days to ensure the water meets Environmental Protection Agency standards.

In the meantime, the Navy has begun passing out water bottles and setting up medical clinics, with Marines setting up showers with lines to clean water, according to the Associated Press. The Army said it is helping families move to a hotel or houses unaffected by the contamination.

It is unclear how the contamination occurred. According to the Navy, there was a leak last week in a fuel storage facility tunnel that mixed fuel and water. However, that leak was fixed and the fuel was removed from the system. The Navy said that leak did not contaminate the environment. An investigation is underway as the Navy works to fix the contamination.

So far, 680 Navy households and 270 Army households have complained of headaches, stomach pains, or fuel smells in their water supply, according to the report. The affected well reaches a total of 93,000 people.


Cheri Burness, whose husband is in the Navy, said she felt the service branch did not react to the problem quickly enough. Burness said she and her daughter were suffering from stomach pains because of the fuel and her dog was the first to stop drinking the water two weeks ago.

"All they had to do was say, 'We see that there's a problem, we don't know what it is, and we're going to do whatever it takes to find out and fix it.' That's all they had to do. And instead, we got: 'Nope. Looks good. Smells fine. Bye,'" Burness told the news outlet.


Because of previous leaks at the Navy's Red Hill fuel storage facility on O'ahu, environmental groups have called upon the military to shut down the World War II-era facility, according to Hawaii Public Radio.

"I have zero confidence at this point," Burness said. "I think this has shown that they cannot be trusted with anything.”