Navy officials to brief public on Red Hill plans
Navy officials will brief lawmakers and the public about their proposed plans for improving tank safety at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility during meetings on Tuesday and Thursday.
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Navy officials will brief lawmakers and the public about their proposed plans for improving tank safety at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility during meetings on Tuesday and Thursday. Those plans must ultimately be approved by the state Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which don’t have a deadline for issuing a decision.
The Navy and Defense Logistics Agency last month submitted their long-awaited proposal for upgrading the aging facility and improving leak detection to regulators. The proposal includes sticking with the facility’s single-walled steel tank liners while permanently adopting its program for cleaning, inspecting and repairing the underground tanks. Top officials with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply have urged the Navy to double-wall its tanks, but the Navy concluded in its report that this would be costly and provide limited benefits.
The state Health Department and EPA ramped up regulation of the World War II-era facility after 27,000 gallons of fuel leaked from one of the 20 tanks nearly six years ago. The tanks sit just 100 feet above an aquifer that serves as a major source of Oahu’s drinking water.
The Navy will present its proposal at a public meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Oahu Veterans Center in Honolulu.
There will also be a Fuel Tank Advisory Committee meeting Thursday at the state Capitol from 9 to 11 a.m. The committee, comprised of government regulators, state lawmakers, Hawaii’s congressional delegation and military officials, meets annually, primarily to provide updates on Red Hill, though the committee is tasked with studying issues related to leaks at other underground fuel storage tanks owned by the military. Navy officials are expected to brief officials on the studies they have completed on Red Hill as well as their proposed plans for facility upgrades.
Ernie Lau, manager and chief engineer of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, last month called the Navy’s plan for upgrading its tanks disappointing and said its recommendation amounts to maintaining the status quo.
Asked to comment on the plan, Bruce Anderson, director of the state Health Department, issued a statement Friday reiterating his view that the tanks need to eventually be moved.
“We encourage the public to review the proposal and provide their written comments or attend the upcoming meetings. Our priority in this process will continue to be the protection of Oahu’s drinking water and groundwater resources,” said Anderson. “The Department of Health contends that storing hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel over one of our most important aquifers poses an unacceptable long-term risk to our drinking water.”
The state Health Department and EPA will also hold a public meeting in November to hear public comments on the plan. An exact date and location have not been announced.