On Monday fuel operators noticed a discrepancy in the fuel level in one of the tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility. Today it confirmed that the tank was leaking jet fuel.
"We think that it might be as much as 20,000 gallons but it's a very complex answer. It's important to understand that it might be a considerably smaller amount," said Capt. Mark Wheeler of the Pearl Harbor Fleet Logistics Center.
Wheeler said a wet area was spotted on the concrete casing that surrounds the tank. It was near the bottom of one of the twenty 250-foot tall storage cylinders. A sample of fluid from the wet spot was compared to the jet fuel in the tank for confirmation.
"I have a high degree of confidence that petroleum products from this incident have not migrated from the Red Hill tank facility towards the Red Hill well aquifer," Naval Facilities Command Capt. Mike Williamson said.
After the Navy sent out notifications, the Board of Water Supply immediately turned off pumps to four wells in the area that supply some of the water to urban Honolulu, Halawa Heights and Aiea Heights. Manager and chief engineer Ernest Lau said water going to people's homes is safe.
"We have taken samples from these wells that have been shut down, and we're awaiting the results. We expect the results some time early next week," he said.
The Navy built the fuel storage facility in the 1940s. The underground tanks can hold about 252 million gallons of jet fuel and diesel. The fuel via underground pipes to Pearl Harbor and Hickam. The state believes the leak isn't a major one.
"The Department of Health does not believe that this situation is an imminent threat to the environment or the public health," program manager Keith Kawaoka said.
Wheeler said the Navy constantly monitors the tanks for spills. It's draining the damaged tank so it can pinpoint the source of the leak.