U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will visit the underground Red Hill fuel storage facility as part of a tour of California and Hawaii, the Pentagon announced today.
Austin will begin his trip on Wednesday at Naval Base Point Loma and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar in California where he will meet with servicemembers. In Hawaii, he “will meet with some of our key allies in the Indo-Pacific” and with Rear Adm. John Wade, who became commander of the newly Joint Task Force Red Hill last week. The task force will be responsible for defueling the Red Hill facility.
Austin ordered the defueling and permanent shutdown of the facility in March after jet fuel from the facility contaminated the Navy’s drinking water system that serves 93,000 people on Oahu in November. The contamination affected both servicemembers and civilians living in former military housing areas.
The military’s initial plan for the refueling said it would take until at least December 2024 to complete the process, but this month the Defense Department said it now believes the process would be complete by July 2024.