Validated Navy Water System testing confirms good water quality at Hickam Elementary School

Posted on Mar 28, 2024 in Newsroom

HONOLULU – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) confirmed that water quality at Hickam Elementary School remains safe, following an investigation into the cause of a single, unvalidated test result that exceeded DOH’s incident-specific parameter (ISP) for total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH).

The Navy notified the Hawaiʻi Department and Education (DOE) and the DOH on March 8 that a preliminary, unvalidated test result of water from a sink used for handwashing in classroom P10 at Hickam Elementary School detected TPH over DOH’s ISP of 266 parts per billion (ppb). The preliminary, unvalidated test showed TPH-oil at 324 ppb.

The sink was secured on the same day and has not been used. At the time that DOH received the elevated result, information strongly indicated that the single sample was contaminated. TPH is one of the many tests that informs DOH’s multiple lines of evidence approach to evaluating the safety of the Navy drinking water system. TPH alone cannot be used to evaluate health risk. More than 40 other petroleum-related compounds were not detected in the testing. 

TPH was not found in a second sample collected from the same sink on the same day (called a split sample). Samples from four other locations at Hickam Elementary that were collected on the same day also did not detect TPH. The fact that the other samples taken at the same time had different results suggests that the single exceedance could have been contamination. 

Further analysis on what may have caused the isolated detection at the one sink is underway, but an initial review showed a strong pattern consistent with some type of lubricating oil (not JP-5 or any other fuel). Out of an abundance of caution, additional samples were also taken from nearby sinks and the sink in question. Results of the additional testing have not detected TPH.

Water sampling has been completed at all schools served by the Navy water system routinely since early 2022 as part of the Navy’s Long-Term Monitoring plan after the Red Hill fuel spill. Click here for results of tests conducted under the Long-Term Monitoring Plan.

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