Lead has again been detected in water samples taken from three Pearl Harbor area locations, including schools for young children, the Navy announced on Thursday.

Two exceedances were detected in samples taken from indoor staff bathroom sinks at Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary School and Moanalua Preschool/Kama‘aina Kids on April 1, the Navy said.

The Navy will be testing water around Pearl Harbor for the next two years. Courtesy: U.S. Navy/2022

The Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary sample tested positive for lead at a level of 26.3 parts per billion, and the sample at Moanalua Preschool/Kama‘aina Kids tested positive at a level of 34.6 parts per billion, according to the Navy.

The Lead and Copper Rule action level for lead under the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act is 15 parts per billion. Both sinks were not regularly used by children, according to the Navy.

The Pearl Harbor Kai Elementary sink had been secured since an earlier detection of mercury in a March 16 sample, according to the Navy. The subsequent sample was taken after the school replaced the sink.

“This lead exceedance was the only one reported out of seven samples collected at the school, and the only one reported out of the 45 samples collected from Zone D1,” the Navy said.

A water sample taken from an indoor sink at a home in Onizuka Village on March 28 also tested positive for lead at a level of 15.5 parts per billion, the Navy said. Personnel secured the sink and sampled all the fixtures in the house to investigate the source, including additional sampling on April 8, the Navy said.

“The Navy immediately contacted the residents and advised them not to consume the water, but that all other uses were acceptable, and began providing bottled water for consumption,” the Navy said. “The Navy is awaiting validated sampling results.”

Lead detections at levels exceeding federal safety standards were found in two other locations near Pearl Harbor in recent weeks: 30.2 parts per billion in a sample taken at the Montessori Center on Makalapa and 20.6 parts per billion in a sample from a Radford Terrace residence.

The testing is part of the two-year water monitoring agreement the Navy made with regulators after operations at the military’s Red Hill fuel facility contaminated the drinking water of the Pearl Harbor area with fuel last year. Thousands of families were displaced from their homes but have since returned with assurances from the Navy and state health department that the water is safe to drink and use.

In a statement, DOH spokeswoman said the state believes the recent water problems are not connected to the fuel contamination crisis.

“We do not believe that the lead and mercury exceedances are related to the fuel contamination,” she said. “It is possible for lead and mercury to contaminate drinking water through fixtures and piping, particularly in older buildings.”

Under the monitoring agreement, the Navy said it will test 6,000 more samples for more than 60 contaminants from roughly 55% of homes and other facilities.

“We continue to focus on the safety of our community and those on our water system,” Rear Adm. Tim Kott, the commander of navy Region Hawaii, said in a statement. “When we get an exceedance, we notify the Department of Health and take immediate steps to analyze and sample to determine the source. We will continue these deliberate and important steps, working with our partners.”

An Important Note

If you consider nonprofit, independent news to be an essential service that helps keep our community informed, please include Civil Beat among your year-end contributions.

And for those who can, consider supporting us with a monthly gift, which helps keep our content free for those who need it most.

This year, we are making it our goal to raise $225,000 in reader support by December 31, to support our news coverage statewide and throughout the Pacific. Are you ready to help us continue this work?

About the Author