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Lawmakers call for more clarity on Navy’s timeline for emptying Red Hill tanks

Some lawmakers are worried that the Navy won't be able to drain the fuel from the Red Hill tanks before possible mandatory water restrictions this summer.
Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 4:40 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 16, 2022 at 5:38 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Some lawmakers are expressing concern that the Navy won’t begin draining fuel from the Red Hill tanks before possible mandatory water restrictions this summer.

The Navy has said defueling will take 12 months. A plan to do it safely is due at the end of May.

State Rep. Bob McDermott worries that the Secretary of Defense’s order to drain the tanks doesn’t carry the force of law.

“It’s a promise from him and when he disappears so does his promise,” he said.

He said emptying the tanks could even take years.

Meanwhile, the Navy is launching an additional investigation into the Red Hill water crisis.

The service said an initial command investigation did not sufficiently review the response to the leaks last May and November. An initial report was due in mid-January and it hasn’t been released.

State Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole says the timeline remains unclear.

“We are not going to know until the Navy releases the reports that they need to publicly complete and release for them to even shut down the facility,” said Keohokalole.

There’s an upcoming court hearing on the state’s emergency order against the Navy on March 22 and Keohokalole says the Navy needs to drop its lawsuit.

“It’s difficult to get everybody in the room without the lawyers present and that makes things hard to work out,” he said.

With nearby Board of Water Supply wells closed to prevent spread of contamination, Oahu water users are being asked to voluntarily conserve water because of the crisis.

Officials have said mandatory restrictions are possible this summer.

“The clock is ticking on our water conservation issue on Oahu,” said Keohokalole.

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