The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said today that it has finalized an agreement with the Navy and Defense Logistics Agency relating to the defueling and closure of the Red Hill fuel facility, adding amendments that address public concerns about the defueling deadline and boost public participation.
“Throughout the process, it has been an EPA priority to ensure communities affected by the releases at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam have had a seat at the table as we work together with the Department of Defense to develop solutions that best protect public health and our environment,” said the EPA’s Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe in a press release.
“Today’s consent order reflects that engagement, and I am confident it will help ensure safe defueling and closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and protection of the area’s drinking water.”
The EPA said that the agreement, called an administrative order of consent, also includes requirements to ensure the Navy properly maintains the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam drinking water system, which provides drinking water to about 93,000 Oahu residents living in neighborhoods around the base.
The EPA, along with the Hawaii Department of Health, have regulatory oversight over the Red Hill facility. DOH has been overseeing the defueling and closure of Red Hill under a state emergency order that it issued last year. The EPA’s consent order outlines the federal agency’s role.
It requires the Navy and Defense Logistics Agency to receive EPA approval for its defueling and spill response plans, as well as its plan for cleaning and permanently shutting down its 20 underground tanks, pipelines and surge tanks. The order also outlines requirements for environmental remediation once the facility is closed.
“This Consent Order provides a critical tool for EPA oversight of the expeditious and safe defueling and closure of the Red Hill fuel storage facility and the drinking water system at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman in the press release. “The order reflects our agency’s commitment to ensuring that communities facing difficult and prolonged environmental challenges have an impactful voice at the table as EPA works to resolve them.”