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Department of Health order requires plan and schedule for Red Hill defueling

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                A section of the Red Hill Shaft access tunnel is seen during a media tour on Jan. 28.

    CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A section of the Red Hill Shaft access tunnel is seen during a media tour on Jan. 28.

The state Department of Health is ordering the Navy to provide a plan and schedule for the defueling and closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The DOH today issued the emergency order, which says that the Navy must provide it with its independent contractor’s assessment on the facility operations by May 15; a plan and schedule to defuel the storage tanks by June 30; and a plan for the closure of the facility by Nov. 1.

The order also requires the Navy to provide documents so the health department can determine whether the plans are protective of public health and the environment.

“Since DOH issued its Emergency Order in December, the Secretary of Defense issued a directive to defuel and decommission Red Hill. This Emergency Order is critical to our efforts to oversee the safe defueling and closure of the facility,” said Kathleen Ho, Deputy Director of Environmental Health, in a statement. “Our main focus is ensuring that defueling and closure operations are performed safely and expeditiously. This work will have consequences for us and for future generations, and on behalf of the people and environment of Hawaiʻi, we will hold the Navy accountable to honor its commitments.”

The Navy is ordered to maintain its suspension of operations at Red Hill and its groundwater treatment system at the Red Hill shaft. It’s also required to provide a documents from Simpson Gumpertz and Heger, the Navy’s independent contractor that will assess the Red Hill facility and make recommendations for the defueling of its 20 underground storage tanks.

After defueling begins, the Navy will provide weekly status reports to the DOH.

The Navy will also meet with the DOH by July 15 regarding the planning and scheduling of the closure of Red Hill.

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