HONOLULU (AP) — A clean up is underway after about 1,100 gallons of toxic fire suppressant was spilled at the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility Tuesday, according to Hawaii Department of Health officials.
The Honolulu-Star Advertiser reported that the Aqueous Film Forming Foam is used to suppress fires caused by flammable liquids such as fuel and contain PFAS, so-called “forever chemicals” that are slow to degrade when released into the environment. Health investigators said excavators are currently digging up contaminated soil. No surface water was contaminated.
According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, PFAS may lead to a higher risk of kidney and testicular cancer, increased risk of high blood pressure in pregnant women, among other health problems.
“This is egregious,” Kathleen Ho, DOH’s deputy director of environmental health said in a news release. “AFFF contains PFAS forever chemicals — groundwater contamination could be devastating to our aquifer. While details are limited at this time, the Joint Task Force and Navy need to be transparent about how this happened.”
Ho said that regulators “will hold the Department of Defense accountable and will press the operator to take any and all appropriate corrective action throughout the defueling and decommissioning process.”
The release occurred above Adit 6, a passageway at the mauka end of the Red Hill facility, according to DOH, which said it was notified of the leak at about 3 p.m.
“A DOH on-scene coordinator responded and preliminarily reported that the spill was not contained and AFFF has spilled into soil outside of the Red Hill facility and into the facility near Adit 6,” DOH said in a news release.
No details were provided about the cause of the release, health officials said.