In federal court appeal, Navy calls state order to empty Red Hill fuel tanks ‘capricious’

The Navy has filed an appeal in federal court saying the state's emergency order to drain its Red Hill facility goes too far and is unlawful.
Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 5:52 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a move that’s drawing anger, the Navy filed an appeal in federal court Wednesday saying the state’s emergency order to drain its Red Hill facility is unlawful.

In the court filing, the Navy said the state’s finding that the underground fuel storage facility poses an imminent threat to Oahu’s drinking water is “clearly erroneous, arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion.” That’s despite a history of leaks and a contamination crisis in the Navy’s water system.

Wednesday was the deadline for the Navy to deliver a plan to the state Department of Health about how it would drain its bulk storage fuel facility while its safety could be studied.

The Navy said it was filing the suit out of an “abundance of caution” and complains the state is “effectively seeking to shut down the Red Hill facility itself.”

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the state Health Department shot back, saying the appeal “proves undeniably the Navy is unwilling to do what’s right to protect the people of Hawaii and its own service members.”

The statement continued, “Despite the Navy claiming time and again that it would comply with the DOH emergency order, its actions consistently prove otherwise. We look forward to taking our fight to court to protect Hawaii residents and our environment.”

Meanwhile, environmentalists say they’ll fight to keep the case in state court instead of federal.

Earlier on Wednesday, at a protect outside U.S. Pacific Fleet headquarters, activists accused the Navy of lying after Navy leaders told Congress they are complying with the order.

The activists are calling for a permanent shutdown of the Red Hill facility.

They say the Navy has failed to act after past leaks and echoed comments by state and Board of Water Supply leaders that the facility is a threat to Oahu’s water since it sits 100 feet above the aquifer.

“Today we see the United States Department of defense through its branch the Navy continues it’s passive aggressive attack,” said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Native Hawaiian community advocate.


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