FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2023
Public Launch of “Walk for Water to Shut Down Red Hill” to Raise Community Awareness, Celebrate United Nations World Water Day, and Honor the Work of the
Sierra Club of Hawai‘i
“Red Hill is in our backyard! Shut down Red Hill, there is no life without water!”
MOANALUA VALLEY, Hawai‘i - Concerned kūpuna from Moanalua Valley who live with the Red Hill fuel tanks in their backyard held the public launch for the “Walk for Water to Shut Down Red Hill” on Sunday, March 19 at the Moanalua Valley Neighborhood Park. The launch also celebrates the United Nations World Water Day on Wednesday, March 22. Moreover, the event was in special honor of the work of the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i and its executive director, Wayne Tanaka, in protecting Hawaii’s most precious resource.
Hawai‘i State Senator Donna Mercado Kim, who represents the area, presented a certificate to Wayne Tanaka on behalf of the Hawai‘i State Senate. Wayne Tanaka, upon receiving the Senate certificate, stressed, “The people of Hawaii are amazing. They care about our place and are willing to protect it. It’s something that’s very unique and it makes Hawai‘i such a special place to live. That’s why it’s important we protect our source of life so we can perpetuate these values and these perspectives and the communities that make Hawai‘i such a beautiful and unique place.”
Partnering with younger generations, including the Hawai‘i Youth Climate Coalition, the Moanalua Valley kūpuna and friends understand the urgency and importance of reaching out to unite people of all ages from Halawa to Hawai‘i Kai, and to take a stand to protect Hawaii’s precious, irreplaceable water. The Red Hill crisis is not limited to Halawa and Moanalua Valley. If spills continue to take place as the most recent spill of “forever chemicals”, all of Honolulu, from Halawa to Hawai‘i Kai, will suffer.The kūpuna recognize that the next generations will only survive if our sole-source aquifer is protected now.
After more than one year since the announcement by Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that Red Hill would be defueled and decommissioned, the residents of O‘ahu still live under an all too real threat to their life-sustaining wai being continuously poisoned by jet fuel and “forever chemicals.” The closing of the Halawa and ‘Aiea wells, which supply close to 20% of the water supply for 70% of urban Honolulu’s population, was a protective measure by the Board of Water Supply. We cannot risk the shutdown of other wells if or when future spills occur.
The battle to hold the Navy accountable and to defuel and decommission Red Hill as quickly and safely as possible is far from over. Diane Iwaoka, a Walk organizer and resident of Moanalua Valley, who lives at the foot of Red Hill where the fuel tanks are buried, stated, “The entire city of Honolulu is under daily threat of more fuel spills contaminating the water from our sole-source aquifer. Further spills will have disastrous consequences for all life, including businesses of all sizes, on our island for generations.”
Rickey Murashige, one of the organizers of the Walk and a speaker at the launch said, “Anyone who lives between Halawa and Moanalua Valley all the way to Hawai‘i Kai needs to be concerned and must step up to protect our water. We cannot remain silent. Too much has happened to contaminate our water. Everyone must get involved.”
Cullen Hayashida, a resident of the Moanalua Valley shared, “This all started with a conversation in our kitchen with the Iwaokas. We agreed that we "have to do something" about this crisis. This led to backyard meetings with Wayne Tanaka and Moanalua Valley neighbors and friends -- letters to the editor, petitions to President Biden, General Austin. And now the Walk to activate our community to bring attention to this crisis that threatens our existence and support the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i, which has been a strong voice for us in this crisis.”
Mater Aina Alcubilla, a 5th grader at Pauoa Elementary School, ended the event by reminding everyone that, “We all must support this, for the sake of the health and safety of all life in my generation and generations upon generations to come.”
The “Walk For Water to Shut Down Red Hill” will take place on Sunday April 23, 2023, 8:00 a.m., at Ala Moana Regional Park and Magic Island. It is a family-oriented, kid-friendly event to raise community awareness and increase participation to shut down Red Hill, to hold the Navy accountable to shut down Red Hill quickly and safely, and to help raise funds for the Sierra Club of Hawaii’s efforts on Red Hill.
The public is invited to register for the Walk at www.redhillwalkforwater.com or make a monetary donation at https://bit.ly/w4w-2023 to help fund the Walk and contribute to the Sierra Club of Hawaii’s Red Hill fund.