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Navy, EPA agree to settlement over fuel oil spill

  • COURTESY U.S. NAVY REGION HAWAII
    Board of Water Supply officials on Wednesday told a City Council panel they are worried a draft plan for improvements at the Navy’s leak-prone Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility calls for too little action spread over too long a time. Above
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The Navy needs to take “immediate and long-term” actions to ease the threat of future leaks at its Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, according to a final settlement it negotiated with the Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health made public today.

Under the Administrative Order on Consent, the Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency will be upgrading or taking out of service each of the 20 underground storage tanks at Red Hill as quickly as possible, which the EPA estimated will run in the tens of millions of dollars.

In January 2014, one of 20 Red Hill tanks leaked about 27,000 gallons of jet fuel oil, raising concerns that groundwater below it may have been contaminated. Tests on drinking water samples taken since the incident have been largely within acceptable federal and state officials, but state and city officials have voiced concerns about continued use of the tanks.

The Navy, meanwhile, has received criticism from state and city officials, as well as the public, for foot-dragging in its response to the leak.

Among the other stipulations agreed to, the Navy and Defense Logistics Agency must:

— Install additional monitoring wells in the area as soon as possible “to address data gaps.”

— Comply with new federal Underground Storage Tank regulations in an expedited manner.

— Commit to installing Best Available Practicable Technology in the Red Hill tanks as soon as “reasonably possible.”

— Consider alternative fuel storage options or locations.

— Provide more details regarding the scope of its tank inspection, repair and maintenance procedures.

— Consult with subject matter experts from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.

“EPA listened to the public, and the result is a strengthened agreement,” said Jared Blumenfeld, EPA Pacific Southwest Regional administrator. “Now the work can start, and we look forward to collaborating with DOH and local stakeholders on this long-term effort to protect public health and Hawaii’s precious aquifers.”

A draft administrative order released by the EPA and Health Department in June also was criticized for doing too little over too long a period of time. The final order came after public comment period during which more than 140 comments were received, the EPA said.

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