The Navy is working to install 16 new monitoring wells around its Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility to help gauge the potential migration of fuel in the groundwater. Eight monitoring wells have already been approved by the state’s Commission on Water Resource Management.
The new wells are in response to fuel spills last year at the Red Hill facility that migrated into the Navy’s drinking water system. The Pentagon announced earlier this year that it would drain the tanks and permanently shut down the facility and environmental remediation is ongoing.
“Due to the Navy’s contamination of our water resource, it is critical that we learn more about the aquifer,” said the Hawaii Department of Health’s Deputy Director for Environmental Health Kathleen Ho, in a press release announcing the approval of the eight wells. “These new monitoring wells will provide insight into the extent of the recent spill beyond the lower tunnel and provide data that will help our experts track possible contamination.”
CWRM Deputy Director Kaleo Manuel said that the new wells will add to the existing knowledge of the area’s hydrology and assist with long-term monitoring of the groundwater.
Another eight wells are being proposed and at least some of those will require negotiations with landowners and are expected to be sited near public water supplies. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply shut down three of its wells last year in response to the Red Hill spill as a precautionary measure and is hoping to better undersand whether groundwater contamination could pose a risk to municipal water sources.
State officials also said on Friday that in the process of drilling another well, that was previously approved, the Navy reported evidence of petroleum contamination in soil and pockets of water held above the aquifer by dense rock or soil. The detections were below state environmental action thresholds and state officials say that the detections do not indicate that the fuel is moving.