Editorial | Our View Navy should heed advice on fuel tanks By Star-Advertiser staff Dec. 13, 2014 Mahalo for supporting Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Enjoy this free story! Read more Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser! You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription. Subscribe Now Read this story for free: Watch an ad or complete a survey Log In Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story. Activate Digital Account Print subscriber but without online access? Activate your Digital Account now. Low levels of contamination detected at two monitoring wells at the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility make it all the more urgent that the Navy steps up now to protect Oahu’s drinking supply. Federal, state and city officials on a task force convened in the aftermath of a fuel leak last January at the World War II-era facility all agree that the huge, aging underground tanks should be double-lined to prevent future leaks from contaminating a nearby aquifer that supplies drinking water for thousands upon thousands of Oahu residents. The Navy, however, is resisting the recommendation and wants to devote even more time to studying a problem that has been well documented and, in the worst-case scenario, poses a truly perilous threat. The recommendation to install secondary containment at the facility within the next 10 years should prevail, expensive and technologically challenging though it will be. This is not a new problem — the facility has a history of leaks dating back to 1949 — and the preliminary results from the groundwater-monitoring wells significantly raise the stakes for the Navy to urgently seek and implement a solution. The state Legislature formed the task force — which consists of city, state, military and community leaders — after the Navy reported that about 27,000 gallons of jet fuel had leaked last January. The Navy drilled the monitoring wells to determine whether any of the leaked fuel could be drifting toward the aquifer that serves about one-fourth of Oahu’s urban population. Navy officials stressed that the level of contamination detected in the monitoring wells is very small, within limits allowed by the Department of Health. They said that further testing is necessary to verify the results, including whether the fuel is actually from a Red Hill tank and not some other source. Officials from the Department of Health and Board of Water Supply described the preliminary findings as worrisome and significant, the first indication that groundwater contamination could be migrating and more evidence that secondary containment is needed. "This is the first time that we have confirmed that petroleum contamination has expanded in the groundwater beyond the area immediately below the tanks," said state Deputy Health Director Gary Gill. "For more than a decade, we have known that contamination from the tanks has penetrated into the groundwater through the basalt and was measurable directly beneath the tanks. These two wells are roughly 300 away from the tanks to the north." The Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility supplies fuel to aircraft and ships at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The Navy considers the facility vital to military operations in Hawaii, and to national security overall. The facility’s neighbors, meanwhile, can be forgiven if they consider it a health threat as much as a defense asset. The Navy must not outweigh the consensus recommendation of the state Department of Health, Honolulu Board of Water Supply and other federal, state and city task force members. Protect Oahu’s groundwater by installing secondary containment at the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility, exploring every technological innovation in order to get the job done within a decade. Previous Story Off the news Next Story 'The biggest public spaces are the streets'