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More tiny holes found in leaking Red Hill fuel storage tank

By Star Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 10:49 a.m. HST, Jun 22, 2014

The Navy confirmed more tiny holes in a leaking storage tank in Red Hill that appears to be a cause of the release of an estimated 27,000 gallons of jet fuel in January.

On Saturday, Navy officials said in a news release that 12 more tiny holes were confirmed in the empty Tank 5 at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The Navy previously announced that three holes were confirmed during testing of the tank on June 16. Officials used a vacuum box to verify that air could flow through the tank wall.

The holes were found in areas that had recently undergone welding repairs.

"We've identified a cause of the fuel release from Tank 5 by visual inspection of the interior of the tank and follow-up non-destructive testing of anomalies identified during visual inspection," said Capt. Mike Williamson, Chief Engineer for Navy Region Hawaii, in the news release. "We will consult with our experts and determine if the combination of these defects could account for a loss of up to 27,000 gallons of fuel."

The Navy said it will begin testing the pipes that lead to and from Tank 5 by testing the pressure of the pipes and checking for a decreases in pressure that would indicate leaks.

Water wells at the nearby Halawa shaft and Moanalua shaft provide about 25 percent of the drinking water for urban Honolulu, but the Board of Water Supply has found no signs of contamination in the water supply around Red Hill,

During the early 1940s some 20 tanks were built below ground in Red Hill to store fuel for ships and airplanes.

Each of the 20 tanks is 250 feet tall, 100 feet in diameter and can hold up to 12.5 million gallons of fuel.

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atilter wrote:
as spectacular as the top secret project was/is, it may be time to retire these tanks? no one likes the possibility of the contamination of any potable water. and the cost of trying to save them just may be too high. with the looming high maintenance costs of projects (fill in the blank) now underway being levied upon our citizenry, this is a luxury we may not be able to afford.
on June 22,2014 | 01:39PM
tigerwarrior wrote:
Best way to spot for leaks is to light a match. All kidding aside. In my opinion, visually inspecting these tanks aren't nearly enough to spot leaks. Some would suggest using mass UL spec sniffer type tracer gas (i.e., helium, hydrogen) for testing. If this method is used, testers must remember to relieve the pressure after conducting such tests or the fuel tank may explode. Auto mechanics often use pressured air or water along with a pressure gauge to test for leaks. All I'm really trying to say is that, bottom line, one can't account for all the leaks of a fuel tank in question just by doing visual inspections.
on June 22,2014 | 02:10PM
false wrote:
When the stats report more autistic kids in a certain community, you where to start looking.
on June 22,2014 | 03:15PM
hikine wrote:
The metal is brittle and could potentially crack and leak more then we'll really have our hands full. How about the other tanks?
on June 23,2014 | 01:21AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Well, as long as they are tiny it's OK. How much petroleum products could leak from a tiny hole?
on June 23,2014 | 08:46AM
inverse wrote:
Sounds like in this job of repairing the tanks, if the all the welds are not 100 percent solid, leaks will occur. Would be helpful to know if the leaks occurred only in an area for one particular welder. In that case they better check all of the welds done by that welder. Also given how critical repair work are for these tanks, aren't they supposed to test the new welds BEFORE filling the tanks back up with fuel? Appears sloppiness and/or trying to cut corners to save money is the cause of the leaking fuel.
on June 23,2014 | 10:11PM
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