"I want to assure the public that the water we provide to the community to drink is safe to drink and is tested several times each year," said Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernest Lau.
A joint effort involving the Navy, the Board of Water Supply and State Health Department is underway to get a handle on the leak and any impact it may have on the nearby wells and a main Oahu aquifer.
The military said it discovered a leak in one of its underground storage tanks on Monday while it was in the process of refilling a tank that had been offline for repairs.
"A thorough investigation has been launched into how, where and why the tank developed the leak. Tank Five had been offline for four years and was brought back into service last month after routine maintenance," said Capt. Mark Wheeler.
Twenty of the fuel tanks are buried deep underground at Red Hill. It is an enormous underground storage facility that is decades old.
The tanks each hold 12 million gallons of fuel.
The U. S. Navy said about 20,000 gallons or less may have leaked out.
But it believes at this point, drinking water for civilians and its military personnel has not been affected.
"Given our system of groundwater monitoring wells in the vicinity of Red Hill and leading to the Navy's Red Hill well. I have a high degree of confidence that the petroleum products have not migrated from the Red Hill facility toward the aquifer, said Capt. Mike Williamson of Naval Facilites Command Pearl Harbor.
Results from testing conducted by the military, state and city officials will not be available until early next week since samples have been sent to a west coast laboratory.
If a problem is detected, there will likely be more extensive testing and monitoring to follow.
”If there are concentrations in the water, we will have to conduct toxicology tests and risk assessment tests to determine what the potential impact may be," said Keith Kawaoka with the State Health Department's Hazardous Evaluation and Emergency Response office.
The tanks are said to be 19-stories high and when they were built were designated as an engineering marvel--like the Hoover Dam and Golden Gate bridge.
The tank is in the process of being emptied, but because it is about as high as the Ala Moana building it will likely take until Saturday to complete the process.