A Hawaii military family avoids tap water

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JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AP) — Richelle Dietz, a mother of two and wife of a U.S. Navy officer, often thinks about water.
It sickened thousands in military housing, including, Dietz says, her own family.
She’s one of 17 relatives of U.S. military members suing the United States over the leak from the World War II-era storage tanks.
She said her entire family — including dog Rocket — continues to suffer fr om health problems they link to the tainted water.
The 17 are considered “bellwether” plaintiffs representing more than 7,500 other military family members, civilians and service members in three federal lawsuits.
When the Dietz family arrived in Hawaii in February 2021, “we thought we were moving to heaven on earth,” Dietz wrote in a declaration filed in the case.
The next night, her Facebook timeline was filled with neighbors complaining about the smell of fuel in their water.
As she prepares to move out of a house where the ice maker has remained off since 2021, Dietz hopes the trial will renew awareness about what happened to the water.


Hawaii (AP) — Richelle Dietz, a mother of two and the wife of a U.S. s. Naval officer who thinks about water a lot.

Monthly expenses for the Honolulu-based family exceed $120, as they purchase showerhead and sink filters along with jugs of bottled water for cleaning, cooking, and drinking. The kids, who are five and thirteen years old, go upstairs with cups of bottled water every night to their bathrooms to brush their teeth.

Dietz expressed her hope that she would eventually be able to stop thinking about water constantly. But for now, it’s a constant. “.

The purpose of this vigilance is to prevent more cases of vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, and other illnesses, which they claim began in 2021 after 93,000 people on and around the Pearl Harbor base were served by the Navy water system contaminated by jet fuel leaks. Thousands of people living in military housing were made sick by it, including Dietz’s family, she claims.

Her family comprises 17 members. S. military personnel are suing the US over the World War II-era storage tanks leak. She claimed that suffering still affects her entire family, including their dog Rocket.

health issues they attribute to the contaminated water. Chief Petty Officer Her Husband refused to speak with The Associated Press due to fear of Navy reprisals.

In three federal lawsuits, the 17 are regarded as “bellwether” plaintiffs, standing in for over 7,500 additional military family members, civilians, and service members. The verdict of their trial, which gets underway on Monday, will have an impact on the other cases’ chances of success and the potential damages.

One of their lawyers, Kristina Baehr, stated that she already views it as a success because the U. S. The state has acknowledged its responsibility.

U. S. In court filings, attorneys for the Department of Justice stated that the government acknowledges the Nov. the United States “breached its duty of care,” the spill at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on June 20, 2021, “caused a nuisance” for the plaintiffs, and the plaintiffs sustained compensable injuries.

However, they contest that the plaintiffs’ claimed health issues were brought on by exposure to jet fuel at levels high enough. Plaintiffs claim that eczema, asthma, anxiety, memory loss, and seizures are among the lingering conditions they are dealing with.

“We felt we were moving to heaven on earth,” Dietz stated in a declaration submitted in the case, when the family moved to Hawaii in February 2021.

However, they were experiencing diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain around Thanksgiving, which was shortly after the leak. There were sick families in the neighborhood as well. They then started to get rashes.

It’s burning in my throat. Dietz recollects telling her husband on November, “I feel like I just drank gasoline.”. 27.

Her Facebook page was overflowing with complaints from neighbors the following evening about the fuel odor in their water. Additionally, the Dietzes smelled fuel and ran to their faucets. They saw the same greasy sheen in the tap water.

The families’ attorneys say the trial will demonstrate that Navy officers disregarded residents’ concerns about fuel in the water and even insisted that staff members were drinking it.

When an email was sent asking for comments on the lawsuit, neither Navy representatives nor government attorneys replied.

For the past ten years, Native Hawaiians and other locals have expressed concerns about fuel storage tanks as a potential source of leaks that could affect the state’s overall water supply. The 400,000 residents of Honolulu’s urban area receive water from an aquifer that the tanks are situated above.

The Navy initially claimed not to have discovered how petroleum entered the water, but subsequent analysis revealed a series of errors that led to the cause.

On May 6, 2021, while fuel was being transferred between tanks, a pipe burst as a result of an operator error, spilling 21,000 gallons (80,000 liters). However, the majority of the fuel went into a fire suppression line, where it stayed until a cart crashed into the line six months later, releasing 20,000 gallons (75,700 liters) of fuel that found their way into the water system.

While one of the tanks was missing that much, Red Hill employees saw it but failed to notify higher-ups of the inconsistency.

Dietz didn’t want to ask to leave Hawaii in order to jeopardize her husband’s professional future. They decided not to drink tap water while they stayed and planned their next course of action.

She declared, “They’re just going to move another family into this house.”. Therefore, we must remain here and make an effort to resolve this. “.

The Native Hawaiians, who regard water as a sacred resource and already harbor mistrust toward the U.S., are Dietz’s claim to have found unexpected allies in this endeavor. s. military history dates at least to 1893, when a group of American businessmen received backing from U.S. S. The Hawaiian kingdom was overthrown by Marines.

One activist who worked to have the tanks shut down, Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua, is a doctorate student studying political science from Native Hawaii. She said that the water crisis made affected military families more united. Additionally, he claimed that it promoted relationships among the military community’s members who frequently come and go from the islands quickly.

According to Kapahua, “the Native community did show up for them” when families felt abandoned by the military.

Dietz was in agreement. She sobbed as she said, “They gave us a seat at the table.”.

At last, the military emptied the tanks as directed by state authorities, in response to public outcry and continuous demonstrations.

Dietz’s spouse subsequently received new orders, and this summer they will be moving to Jacksonville, Florida. There, they have no intention of residing in military housing.

Dietz hopes the trial will raise awareness about what happened to the water as she gets ready to move out of a house where the ice maker hasn’t been on since 2021.

“I’m concerned that someone will turn on the ice maker now that they’re moving in,” she remarked. “.

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