The Board of Water Supply has stepped up its testing of water wells following the news that the Navy has found diesel and traces of lead in a monitoring well at Tripler Hospital.
It's not clear if the contamination is from an old landfill or an old gas station at Tripler.
The Navy’s top brass met with city officials at Honolulu Hale Thursday afternoon for about an hour and a half.
It was a meeting the two sides had planned for some time
"We wanted to talk about what are the facts, what do we know, and what do we need to do long and short term. to preserve this valuable source of drinking water," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
The Tripler discovery is being treated as a separate investigation from the January fuel spill of at Red Hill.
The Navy commander who meets regularly with the mayor, assured the public that getting to the bottom of the Red Hill spill is a high priority for the U. S. Navy.
"We have the best experts that we could possibly be bringing in. We have independent engineers and experts looking at this, because that’s what we want, we want to get it right. We also want to make sure we preserve what’s a national vital interest and Red Hill is,” said Rear Adm. Rick Williams of U.S. Navy Region Hawaii.
The Navy plans to spend $4 million to install additional monitoring wells around the installation---something the Board of Water Supply’s chief engineer was glad to hear.
"They are now open to the idea of site characterization, which is something we suggested awhile back. But we are glad to know today they are open to drilling more monitoring wells on both sides of the facility to find out if there is fuel in the groundwater," said Ernest Lau.
The Navy's chief engineer said its contractors are still trying to determine whether the 5 and 1/2 inches of fuel that appeared to be missing from the tank represents a true spill of 27,000 gallons or if it was just water from the containment area that leaked out.
In any event, the idea of abandoning the 70-year-old underground facility is unlikely.
"We have been asked to look at secondary containment. These are very big tanks. They are 125 feet in diameter, 220 feet high and right now, the technology does not exist to go to secondary containment," said Capt. Mike Williamson of the Navy’s Engineering Command.
Both state and city officials are asking for increased efforts to prevent any fuel contamination of Oahu’s aquifer.
They maintain the cost of treating water would be very expensive and an added burden to taxpayers.