Navy outlines gameplan to protect drinking water - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Navy outlines gameplan to protect drinking water

Gary Gill Gary Gill
Capt. Mike Williamson Capt. Mike Williamson
Within the next couple of months the U.S. Navy will install two ground water monitoring wells between its Red Hill fuel storage facility and the Board of Water Supply's Halawa Shaft, an important source of drinking water.

"It's a leading indicator. It's a line of defense. It's an early warning system that allows us to take the appropriate action before any fuel ever gets into our water source," said Capt. Mike Williamson, Navy Region Hawaii Chief Engineer.

The wells should give the Navy a fast heads up if future leaks happen in any of its underground fuel cylinders and show how quickly a spill may be moving toward the Halawa site.

"The 20 tanks, each holding 12 million gallons plus, are just 100 feet above our aquifer," said Department of Health Environmental Health Deputy Director Gary Gill.

In January up to 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from tank number 5. The Environmental Protection Agency wants to know how and why that happened.

"There clearly were some problems with repairs that were done to the tank. So that's something we're very interested in is improving repair procedures," EPA Regional Program Manager Steven Linden said.

A vacuum test uncovered 17 small holes in areas where plates were welded to the inside of the tank. The Navy will do another round of inspections.

"We may find more. We might not. The point is we need to find all of them," Williamson said.

The Health Department hosted a public information meeting Tuesday to update progress on the fuel tank fix and what can be done to prevent future spills.
Gill said an important step will be going after the fuel that got out.

"We haven't gone to actually try and pull out any petroleum product that might still be around the tank or in the bedrock near the tank," he said.

Besides new groundwater monitoring wells, Williamson said the Navy's also looking at better leak detection systems and possibly another layer of containment around the tanks. At this point every option is open for discussion.



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