Also on the horizon is a looming lawsuit to be filed by Former Hawaii Attorney General Margery Bronster and her Bronster Fujichaku Robbins firm, along with Cory Weck and his California-based firm, McCune Wright Arevalo. Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, Bronster noted that she has filed claims on behalf of more than a dozen people, which is essentially a precursor to a lawsuit. “For people who’ve suffered without water, it’s more than an inconvenience. They’ve suffered financially. They’ve suffered with their health. They’ve suffered a total upheaval in their lives and well-being,” Bronster said. She also acknowledged that those affected include more than just service members. “There are many in the community who are retired, who are living on base, who are living near the base, and have their families and non-military personnel who have been affected by the [crisis]. Tens of thousands of people are potentially at risk.”
Bronster Fujichaku Robbins has a form available for those who have been affected and are interested in filing a claim. Weck stressed that the efforts were pivotal in holding the military accountable. A retired Marine Corps major, Weck described his experience serving at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and admitted that he found throughout his career that “the government at the highest level tends to turn its back on its service members.” Weck noted that there is precedent to this lawsuit, citing a similar water contamination crisis at Camp Lejeune that occurred decades ago but continues to wreak havoc on victims. Less than a quarter of claims from the Camp Lejeune crisis, which occurred from Aug. 1, 1953 through Dec. 31, 1987, were approved from January 2011 to June 2019.
Given that history, lawmakers and community members are understandably skeptical about the Navy’s ability to rectify the environmental disaster it’s caused that has resulted in a crisis that has cost $250 million and counting to address. Even worse, the Navy appears to not even know its own facilities. Rep. Sonny Ganaden told the Honolulu Civil-Beat last week that during a tour with Navy officials, the military discovered fuel had leaked into a drain line pipe the Navy wasn’t even aware existed. Ganadan called it the “worst-case scenario,” while Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, who corroborated his account, was even harsher. “If they don’t know the blueprints of the fuel tank facility, what else do they not know? If we don’t know this, how will you even assess what needs to be fixed?” Kim told the outlet.