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As state waits for Navy to drain Red Hill facility, officials discuss future of fuel tanks

Elected officials, environmental groups and the Board of Water Supply spoke in a joint-neighborhood board meeting Wednesday night demanding the Navy to drain it
Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 10:35 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:33 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Elected officials, environmental groups and the Board of Water Supply spoke in a joint-neighborhood board meeting Wednesday night demanding the Navy to drain its Red Hill Fuel facility and to relocate the fuel immediately.

Hundreds of people attended a virtual meeting that included three different neighborhood boards: Manoa, Makiki, Lower Punchbowl, Tantalus and Kalihi-Palama.

Concerns surrounding the Red Hill Fuel Facility were discussed.

“We are all calling for the Navy to comply with that order to not challenge that order,” said Congressman Kai Kahele. “And to fully comply with that order.”

Kahele announced in the board meeting that he and members of the state senate and city council will be touring the Red Hill Tunnel on Thursday.

And while the state ordered the Navy to drain the fuel tanks last month, the Board of Water Supply’s Chief Engineer and Manager, Ernie Lau has been pushing for immediate action because he says they pose a threat to the island’s main aquifer.

“I hope they would just stick to their guns and not not back down,” Lau said.

If the Navy continues to fight the order, Lay said they might indefinitely close its nearby Halawa shaft along with the Halawa and Aiea wells.

In the meantime, Lau says they’re already looking into alternative locations for new wells.

“Far enough away that they won’t be impacted by the fuel contamination or leaks, possible future leaks even larger leaks out of the original facility,” Lau said.

State Rep. Bob McDermott wants to move the fuel outside of Hawaii.

“Push it to Singapore to Okinawa, to Korea to Japan to Alaska, Guam, the Philippines and Darwin, Australia all have Defense Logistics Agency, fuel depots that can receive this tool,” McDermott said. “That’s closer to the potential hotspots that we might have conflict with strategic competitors in the future.”

As for who would pay for the tanks to be drained?

“Personally, for me, the Navy should pay for all of this right?” said Kahele. “This shouldn’t come out of new tax dollars or new funding mechanisms, the Navy should pay out of their budget, and their contingency funds and what they have to clean up this entire mess.”

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, residents at the Aliamanu Military Reservation learned they won’t be allowed to return to their homes until at least mid-February.

The army said after flushing millions of gallons through the water system tests showed the water still isn’t safe.

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