Sand Island fuel leak grows - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Sand Island fuel leak grows

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - What looked like a minor fuel leak at Sand Island has turned into a 100-yard underground plume. And it's growing.

Staffers from the state Health Department, the Coast Guard and the Environmental Protection Agency were at the scene on Thursday attempting to assess and contain the growing environmental threat.

Health Department investigators dug nearly 30 exploratory trenches striking oil in five of the holes. A private company was also on site to help with the clean up.

"It has moved quite a bit since the notification was given last week," said Terry Corpus, the Health Department's On Scene Coordinator.

"There's still more there. They're still continuing to vacuum up the fuel on the ground."

The tank's owner, the Hawaii Fueling Facilities Corporation, initially estimated that 42,000 gallons of jet fuel had leaked from its No. 2 tank, which developed a hole at the bottom. More than 15,000 gallons have been recovered so far.

But the Health Department said the company's estimate was based on a check of its inventory records last week. A more updated estimate was not provided.

“This is worse than originally reported," said environmental activist Carroll Cox.

"They've learned now that it's been leaking for some time so clearly it's more than 42,000 gallons."

Health officials say that there's no threat to the area but that could change if the spill turns out to be even bigger than the latest revision.

As a precaution, the Health Department has ordered HFFC to place protective booms along the harbor to prevent any fuel leaking out of the ground and into the ocean.

State workers also dug up hundreds of pounds of contaminated soil for future treatment.

"How bad is it? It's bad enough that we need stronger oversight and someone needs to be held accountable," Cox said. 

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