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In aftermath of Red Hill fuel leak, tests find drinking water still safe

    The drinking water from the wells is being monitored after the leak from a 12 million-gallon jet fuel tank.

Results of laboratory tests on drinking water — conducted after Navy officials found a possible jet fuel tank leak last week at Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility –are continuing to meet federal regulatory Safe Drinking Water and State of Hawaii standards, and the water’s safe to drink, according to a Navy news release issued this afternoon. 

Water samples are continuing to be drawn at the site to check for contaminants. 

Test results confirmed Thursday that a 12 million-gallon Navy jet fuel tank leaked in the vicinity of five wells. Navy officials suspect less than 20,000 gallons of JP-8 fuel leaked from Tank 5 at the underground storage facility.

After finding a possible leak on Jan. 13, Navy officials confirmed the leak at a joint news conference held Thursday with state and city officials, stressing that it was minimal and that drinking water remains safe.

Test results from five drinking water wells in the vicinity taken by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply have shown no fuel contamination. The board is moving forward with its own monitoring plan of the drinking water that has been approved by the state Department of Health. HBWS drinking water wells that were shut down as a precaution are being brought back into service as of today, according to the release. 

Tests on initial water samples taken after the possible leak was discovered showed no presence of fuel in drinking water wells. Test results on samples taken since then are pending. 

Draining of the fuel tank was completed Saturday morning. Now it must be vented, a process that could take several weeks, before workers can enter it to try to find the source of the leak.

The Red Hill facility was built between 1940 and 1943. Each of its 20 cylindrical tanks is 250 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter. Each can hold up to 12.5 million gallons of fuel. Red Hill continues to provide secure fuel storage for ships and aircraft of U.S. Pacific Fleet and other military branches.

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