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Sierra Club raises new questions about Navy’s cleanup of Red Hill fuel leak

Huge fuel storage tanks at Red Hill have been a community concern for years. (Image: Navy)
Huge fuel storage tanks at Red Hill have been a community concern for years. (Image: Navy)
Published: May. 25, 2021 at 5:46 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Sierra Club says state Health Department data raises questions about whether a Red Hill fuel leak earlier this month was contained, as the Navy claimed.

Citing data from the state Department of Health, the Sierra Club said they believe the reason for a spike in contaminants is because the leak was not properly contained.

“There is only one explanation for the huge spike in volatile organic compounds. The leak was not contained. It migrated underground beneath the tanks,” said Sierra Club attorney David Kimo Frankel.

“The Navy cannot be trusted with our groundwater.”

About 1,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from its Red Hill fuel storage facility on May 6.

In a news release after the incident, the Navy said the leak was from a distribution pipeline and that a containment system “properly monitored, detected and collected the fuel release as designed.”

In response to the Sierra Club’s allegation on Tuesday, a Navy spokesperson said:

“We believe that the release was properly contained by the catchment system during the incident. We have been proactively monitoring groundwater in the vicinity of the two broken pipe couplings and have not detected any contamination in the groundwater.”

The Navy added that the state data could be linked to contamination during cleanup.

The Sierra Club said a Fuel Tank Advisory Committee meeting also revealed it took the Navy over 12 hours to inform the Health Department of the Red Hill leak.

DOH is currently conducting a contested case hearing to determine whether the Navy should receive a required permit to operate the tanks. The Navy said the fuel leak is still under investigation.

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