Hawaii’s delegation has thrown its support behind a state emergency order instructing the Navy to drain its Red Hill fuel tanks and conduct a safety assessment of the aging facility before seeking permission to resume operations.
U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz and Reps. Kai Kahele and Ed Case issued a joint statement today emphasizing the importance of safeguarding Oahu’s aquifer that supplies the island with drinking water.
“The Navy must fully comply with the order and begin the process of planning and executing the safe removal of fuel that continues to pose a threat to O‘ahu’s drinking water,” according to the statement. “Defueling safely will require a coordinated effort, and the delegation will do everything possible to support this effort. Clean drinking water is essential to our health and safety, and our future—we all agree this cannot be compromised for anything.”
On Monday, the Hawaii Department of Health upheld its Dec. 6 emergency order, following a contested case hearing in which the Navy argued that the state lacked the statutory authority to issue the order.
The Navy can contest the order in court, but has not said whether it intends to do so.