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State orders Navy to suspend operations at Red Hill, de-fuel underground tanks

The governor ordered the Navy to empty its Red Hill underground fuel storage tanks amid an investigation into tainted drinking water.
Published: Dec. 6, 2021 at 5:28 PM HST|Updated: Dec. 6, 2021 at 10:37 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a significant move Monday night, the governor ordered the Navy to empty its Red Hill underground fuel storage tanks amid an investigation into tainted drinking water.

Petroleum has been found in the Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system’s Red Hill well.

“The health and safety of our residents are my top priorities,” said Gov. David Ige, in a news conference announcing his decision. “We need to know what happened, how and why it happened.”

The announcement essentially means the state is telling the Navy to shut down its Red Hill facility for an undetermined amount of time ― and potentially permanently.

Here’s what the state Health Department’s order includes:

  • Operations at the Red Hill facility must be immediately suspended.
  • The Navy will need to install a drinking water treatment system at the Red Hill shaft, where petroleum has been detected.
  • Submit a work plan and timeline to assess the system’s integrity, and take corrective action if necessary.
  • And within 30 days of completing corrective action, the Navy must defuel the tanks.

The news conference comes just hours after Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, who is in Honolulu, pledged to restore the Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system.

The state has advised the 93,000 customers on the Navy system not to drink the water.

Residents tapped into the Navy system have complained of fuel-like odors and medical issues after using or drinking the water.

This story will be updated.

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