Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story!

Residents affected by the fuel contamination of the Navy’s water supply on Oahu have begun bringing class-action lawsuits against their landlords.

A complaint was filed Dec. 31 in Circuit Court against Ohana Military Communities, Hunt MH Property Management, Island Palm Communities and Hickam Communities, and on Monday a separate suit was filed against Kapilina Beach Homes.

The plaintiffs argue they overpaid for rent and that housing companies failed to provide a safe environment and did not disclose risks of fuel contamination to residents. The lawsuits say families and individuals were “wrongfully evicted” from their homes as a result of the contamination.

“They may not have direct control over the water system. However their principal, the United States Navy, does,” said attorney James Rooney of Revere & Associates, one of the law firms representing the plaintiffs. “They certainly are privy to probably more information than the public would be being a defense contractor and an agent of the U.S. Navy.”

The Navy’s water system serves 93,000 people on Oahu. The Navy now says the contamination was the result of JP-5 jet fuel spilling from its underground Red Hill fuel storage facility in May and entering the facility’s fire suppression system, which burst Nov. 20 and contaminated the Red Hill water well.

The 80-year-old facility, whose 20 tanks can hold up to 250 million gallons of fuel for ships and aircraft, was built underground during World War II to make it harder for enemy forces to target. The aging tanks sit directly above a critical aquifer that provides much of Honolulu’s drinking water.

“These companies have tenants (sign) mold disclosures and sometimes lead-based paint disclosures, yet they refuse to provide them notice that there is a quarter-million gallons of jet and marine diesel fuel sitting right above their water supply,” Rooney said.

Some Navy officials told residents their tap water was safe after families reported symptoms and fuel odors. Last month Navy Capt. Erik Spitzer, joint base commander at Pearl Harbor- Hickam, wrote on the base’s Facebook page, “We mistakenly felt the initial tests … meant we may drink the water, and I said in my notification that my staff and I were drinking the water. That was not a cover, we were. We truly thought the testing results indicated the water was safe to drink.”

Rooney said that in some cases representatives of military housing companies also told residents the water was safe.

“After the fact there were a lot of misrepresentations and other lack of communication, additionally subjecting them to liability, certainly civil if not criminal as well,” Rooney said.

Lendlease, the company that owns Island Palm and Hickam communities, said in a statement that “from the very beginning of the fuel spill from the Navy’s Red Hill fuel storage facility, Island Palm Communities and Hickam Communities have been, and will continue to be committed to serving the needs of the military and our residents to the best of our ability. We cannot speak to either the merits or contents of the suit itself at this time as it is still being reviewed, but we can assure you that our commitment to our residents’ wellbeing is always our first priority.”

Representatives of Hunt, the Texas-based holding company that owns Ohana Military Communities, said the company does not comment on pending legal matters but offered a statement from Brian Stann, president of Hunt Military Communities, on the actions the company has taken.

“Our teams have been working tirelessly to support our residents during this difficult time. We have continuously communicated with and provided support and resources to our impacted residents,” Stann said. “We are acting as host and liaison between the Navy and residents by providing updates and information through our communication channels and are participating in the Navy’s town halls in our community centers. We are facilitating staging and logistics to support the Navy’s efforts, while working to deliver the highest-quality property management standards throughout our communities at Ohana.”

Unlike the other defendants, the privately owned Kapilina Beach Homes is not contracted by the Navy, but does use the Navy’s water system. A representative of the company also said that it does not comment on pending litigation and provided a statement on the actions the company has taken.

“Until the Navy remediates the water supply, treatment and distribution system, we are implementing several measures to assist our residents, including sourcing larger water bottles, offering reimbursement for offsite laundry delivery services, providing access to shower facilities at 24 Hour Fitness and continuing to waive all water charges until further notice,” the statement said. “We are focused on providing our residents with timely updates as new information becomes available and doing everything we can to assist our community during this difficult time.”

Red Hill Complaint by Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Red Hill Kapilina Class Act… by Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Source: Star Ads

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Jessica Ledon

Last Updated on October 29, 2022 by grace Table of Bio/Wiki #M714910ScriptRootC1350585…

Wendy Credle

Wendy Credle is an American television media personality. Wendy Credle is a…

Luca Dotti – Celebrity Son, Graphic Designer, Author | Wiki, Age, Height, Net Worth, Relationship, Ethnicity, Career

Quick Facts of Luca Dotti Profession Graphic Designer, and Author Full Name…

Get To Know Kirsten Lepore Age, Height, Net Worth, Daniel Kwan : INTERNEWSCAST

Meet Kirsten Lepore, wife of Everything Everywhere All at Once director Daniel…