Navy begins months-long process to filter contaminated water

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The US Navy begins the process of filtering and flushing fuel from its contaminated water lines.

For at least the next month and a half, the US Navy will be filtering and purging its water lines of any combustible material. This follows reports of a gasoline smell coming from tap water caused by a leak at its Red Hill fuel storage facility.

The Navy began the process by using four tanks of granular activated carbon filters in a naval housing area in Pearl City on Monday.

Water from the distribution line is routed through a portable tank filtration trailer. After filtration, the water is discharged into a nearby park or field.

Filtered water exits in a nearby field on December 20, 2021.

According to the Navy, the discharged water is “cleaner than rain”.

Matt Kurano, environmental scientist with the state health department, says the filtration system has been characterized as a Brita filter – and while there’s some precision to that, it’s much more complex than that.

“There’s a bit more engineering involved in this case. I know the Navy has specified units that could more than cover the amount of water coming through it,” he said.

“Essentially the chemistry is similar, i.e. activated carbon which can remove pollutants of concern. , the mobility of the units was appropriate for what they were doing,” Kurano said.

Kurano says this effort is the first phase of a larger effort to ensure safe drinking water.

According to the Navy, this first phase will take one day. Lt. Commander John Daly says the Navy will test the water after every flushing process.

“Once tested and confirmed by independent labs, as well as our partners and their independent labs as well, we can begin to declare certain delivery systems safe,” Daly said.

“And from there, we’ll go into homes, businesses and other points of service. We’ll also methodically flush those parts of the system and then we’ll start testing,” he said.

Daly says he expects this entire effort to be completed within 30 to 45 days. But he stresses that the test results will determine the project’s completion.

Water system flushing area map.JPG

Map of water system flushing zones
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