By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Hawaii's current clash with the Navy over the contamination of drinking water in Oahu has prompted a Guam water official to renew her call for an investigation into the military's activities that may be affecting the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer.
"No matter how anyone feels about the military, the recent reports about the Navy’s unsavory behavior relative to the over 90,000 Red Hill residents' tap water in Hawaii are very disturbing," Hope Cristobal, chair of the Northern Guam Soil & Water Conservation District, stated in a letter to Guam Environmental Protection Agency administrator Walter S. Leon Guerrero.
Last week, Rear Adm. Blake Converse, a ranking Navy official, sought to debunk state officials' speculations that the contamination was caused by a leak from aging underground fuel storage tanks above an aquifer.
Converse told Hawaii lawmakers that the contaminated tap water that went to military households came from a one-time spill of jet fuel on Nov. 20.
"Can our GEPA please update the Guam community about DOD jet fuel leaks? What are any Navy reports saying about the jet fuel pipelines running along and under our roads and along and across village homes situated over the NGLA in northern Guam? What are any Navy or Air Force reports saying about any toxic/chemical contaminations to the Northern Guam Lens Aquifer?"Cristobal said.
The Northern Guam Lens Aquifer supplies 85 percent of the island’s drinking water.
"By the Navy’s own report here on Guam, there were jet fuel leaks from DOD pipelines running from Naval Station to Andersen Air Force Base in the past," Cristobal wrote.
In 2019, Andersen Air Force Base in Guam has been fined by the territory’s Environmental Protection Agency for using pool chlorination tabs that were classified as a pesticide to sanitize some of its drinking water.
"We see the soldiers delivering water to the doors of community families on base. That image puts the lie to the national security argument for not telling people about what is going on with military activities that affect the water," Cristobal said. "On this basis alone, the Guam EPA should be just as concerned for our island community as we are."
She said the community must be reassured that GEPA is enforcing guidelines and watching over activities by the Navy or the Air Force.
"If there is one thing that the episode in Hawaii says to our community here in Guam, it is that the Navy should not be believed about anything they say," Cristobal said. "Even about a measurable visible smellable problem of jet fuel in their own people’s water supply—something that destroys what the Navy calls readiness."