Key congressional panel poised to press Navy on whether they’ll drain fuel from Red Hill tanks

The House Subcommittee on Readiness will call some of the Navy's top officials as witnesses to testify about the fuel spill.
Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 10:33 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 7, 2022 at 1:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A key Congressional panel will hold a hearing next week over the Navy’s handling of the Red Hill water contamination.

The House Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Readiness will call some of the Navy’s top officials in Hawaii and on the mainland to testify about the fuel spill. They will also question them about whether the Navy plans to comply with the state’s order to shut down the fuel tanks.

“We also want to look at what the military is doing to take care of the military and the civilian families that have been affected in the housing areas,” said U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele, a member of the subcommittee.

Kahele said the Navy facility has over 75 closed circuit cameras and that the committee will likely request the recordings.

“One of the things we got a chance to look in the Red Hill tunnel system is a close circuit ... camera system that should have recorded the May 6 (fuel spill) incident and the Nov. 20 incident,” he said.

Those cameras could also show how fuel got into the drinking water.

During a tour with Kahele and state and city lawmakers, the Navy disclosed that fuel escaped undetected through a ditch after a worker ruptured a pipe on Nov. 20.

“They actually didn’t realize there was a small drain line that was going underneath the rail track that sent the fuel into the Red Hill well,” said state Rep. Sonny Ganaden, who represents Kalihi.

The Navy and the Army are now flushing the military water distribution system but the clean-up will take longer in some neighborhoods.

During a town hall meeting Thursday, Army officials said displaced residents in the Aliamanu Military Reservation likely won’t be able to return to their homes until February.

The Army said recent tests done after an initial round of flushing still detected petroleum. It said it will start flushing again over the next 10 days.

“We did have a dirty result. A dirty test come back and that’s why we’re re-flushing again,” said Maj. Gen. Joseph Ryan of the U.S. Army.

“We’re going to re-flush the system until we get the results we want.”

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