Above photo: Twitter @oahuWP.
Honolulu – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will be in Hawaii through the week and plans to meet Rear Admiral John Wade, the commander in charge of defueling the Red Hill underground fuel tanks. So far, there are no scheduled plans to meet with families.
Families who were sickened by the spill are demanding immediate help.
The protest over Red Hill goes beyond defueling the tanks.
Ten months after the spills, families who were sickened after drinking fuel-contaminated water say their physical and neurological illnesses aren’t going away. “Real people are experiencing real symptoms,” said Army Major Amanda Feindt during a protest last week in the nation’s capital.
Ariana Wyatt fears for her daughter, Indy.
“I would love to tell you sheʻs doing a lot better, but thatʻs just not the truth,” said Wyatt.
“The latency period in a child, it can be anywhere from 5 to 10 years so we are looking at screening for cancer.”
The Navy’s medical leaders have said there is no evidence the contamination caused long-term symptoms.
“We have no evidence to suggest there’s ongoing acute exposure or symptoms related to the water distribution system,” said Capt. Michael McGinnis, U.S. Pacific Fleet Surgeon, in March.
Last week, Hawaii News Now interviewed Pentagon Press Secretary Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder and asked if the Department of Defense still believes that the exposure to the jet fuel was temporary.
“I canʻt really go into that because I donʻt have that information,” said Ryder.
Ryder said he’s a father and can empathize.
“I canʻt pretend to know what those affected went through,” said Ryder.
“Thereʻs nothing more important than the health and welfare of our DOD families,” he added.
Some 93,000 water users along the Navy’s system couldn’t drink the tap water for months until it was cleared by the state Health Department earlier this year. Military medical teams saw 6,000 people during the crisis.
Ryder says the Defense Department has established a health registry to document issues from the spill.
Hawaii News Now asked about the civilians who were impacted and if they are on their own.
The Pentagon says those needing help should reach out to their medical providers.
“Weʻll continue to work very closely with the community,” said Ryder.
But U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono say more should be done.
“They have to be made whole. They were hurt by the Department of Defense. These civilian families, these contractors, and these service members and their families.” said Schatz, D-Hawaii.
“I’ve also spoken to business people and others regarding the concerns which are large regarding the toxicity created by this leak,” added Hirono, D-Hawaii.