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USA Today: Hawaii families impacted by Navy's toxic jet fuel leak worry about cancer, prepare legal action a year later

Families are seeking restitution from water contamination on US military bases.
People affected by toxic exposure 30 years ago at Camp Lejeune may have the right to seek restitution from the government because of the Red Hill case filed by attorney Kristina Baehr of Just Well Law.

The article by USA Today discusses ongoing concerns regarding the contamination of public drinking water with jet fuel from the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility in Hawaii. Despite assurances from the Navy and the Department of Health that the water is now safe, recent reports indicate ongoing toxic exposure from issues with petroleum traces in the water supply. The Red Hill facility, originally built in the 1940s, sits above an aquifer supplying 25% of Oahu's drinking water.

Two major fuel leaks in May and November 2021 caused significant public health problems, prompting evacuations and legal action from affected residents. The Navy's handling of the leaks and toxic exposure from water communication with the public has faced criticism. The tanks at Red Hill have not yet been defueled, with the Navy aiming to complete this process by the end of 2024.

While the water is considered safe according to federal standards, some residents still report health symptoms and lack trust in the government's assurances. Legal action is underway, spearheaded by personal injury lawyer Kristina Baehr with hundreds of families preparing to file claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Austin, Texas attorney Kristina Baehr of Just Well Law, is helping over 250 families file claims and said she receives calls everyday. Under the Federal Tort Claims Act, individuals can seek compensation for "personal injury, death, or property loss or damage caused by the negligent or wrongful act or omission of an employee of the federal government," according to the EPA.

"Every single person who is on the waterline should be bringing in a claim," Baehr said. "Even if they don't currently have harm or illness, this still affected their life."

Toxic torts lawyer Kristina Baehr held two town halls in Honolulu last week inviting the public to share their stories. Concerns persist about long-term health consequences such as cancer, drawing parallels with similar water contamination incidents like Camp Lejeune.

Read the full article on USA Today.


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