Watchdogs worry about more delays as Navy prepares to submit Red Hill plan

The Navy’s highly anticipated plan to defuel the Red Hill tanks is due on Thursday and critics are worried about more delays.
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 4:30 PM HST|Updated: Jun. 27, 2022 at 4:51 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - With the Navy’s plan on how it intends to safely defuel the Red Hill tanks due Thursday, critics are worried about more delays.

Health regulators will still need to approve the plan after it’s submitted to the state Health Department.

The deadline comes as the Navy has still not released its internal investigation and supplemental report on the contamination.

That was due back in January.

Honolulu Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer and Manage Ernie Lau says he’s still in awe that the Navy bowed to public pressure in deciding to drain millions of gallons of fuel from the Red Hill fuel tanks.

“It’s a miracle. I’ve been at this for over eight years and this is the most progress on this issue,” he said.

SPECIAL SECTION: Navy Water Crisis

Meanwhile, the state says it doesn’t know when both reports will be released, leaving watchdogs worried.

“There is still no clear picture,” Lau said. The plan to defuel is due at the end of this month. It’s just a few days away so we are going to take a close look at that plan to see if it’s reasonable or if it’s just stalling and trying to extend the timeline.”

A Navy contractor’s report showed Red Hill needed about 200 repairs for safe defueling.

Hawaii’s congressional members say it ould take at least two years and $100 million before before defueling could begin.

“We have learned from 2021, it’s not the tanks. It’s really the piping. It’s really the valves and piping that we don’t know even exists,” said Melodie Aduja, co-chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii’s environmental caucus.


“Water is mixed with fuel. That shouldn’t be happening. Everything about it is totally negligent,” she added.

In the meantime, the Board of Water Supply continues to ask for 10% voluntary conservation due to the Navy’s tainted water crisis and an ongoing drought.

“We did various climate models and the results came up mixed. There were some scenarios that it got drier and some scenarios we got wetter,” said Lau.

Experts are hoping for a positive trend after BWS saw water pumping for May dropped and went below the five-year average.

“We were very lucky the rainfall for this past May was just a little above normal and it was better than being below normal,” said Kathleen Elliott-Pahinui, BWS spokesperson.

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