By JENNIFER SINCO KELLEHER, Associated Press
HONOLULU (AP) — A hearing over the U.S. Navy contesting a Hawaii order to shut down a massive fuel storage facility blamed for contaminating Pearl Harbor drinking water got underway Monday with state health officials describing past problems with the tanks.
They detailed issues including behind-schedule maintenance and corroding steel tanks that haven’t been inspected in more than 20 years.
The state issued an emergency order to stop running the underground tanks and remove the fuel after tests in recent weeks detected petroleum in the Navy’s tap water system. The Navy is contesting the order, which prompted an evidentiary hearing that could last days.
Fuel has so far only been detected in the Navy’s water system, which serves 93,000 people. But Honolulu’s water utility is concerned leaked fuel could taint its water supply and an aquifer that it shares with the Navy.
Navy officials believe a one-time spill of jet fuel inside an access tunnel on Nov. 20 contaminated one of its wells and the tap water. Officials said they don’t believe leaking fuel tanks tainted the water.
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