Navy submits updated Red Hill defueling plan, shortening timeline by half a year
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The military on Wednesday submitted its updated plan to defuel the Red Hill underground fuel storage tanks, shortening its timeline by half a year.
The new plan, submitted to the Hawaii Department of Health, estimates defueling to be complete by July 2024.
The Navy previously said it would safely remove 104 million gallons from the Red Hill tanks by the end of 2024.
The military worked to condense the timeline, determining that certain activities could be done in parallel. The new plan reduces the duration of the final phase of defueling from roughly 8 months to 5 months.
The new plan also includes information on the Department of Defense unpacking plan, infrastructure repairs, training and more.
DOH said staff are now reviewing the updated plan and will provide further comment upon review.
“We are focused on ensuring that defueling takes place as quickly and safely as possible,” said Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho, in a statement.
“There is a continued threat to our aquifer and residents every day that fuel remains in the Red Hill tanks. As we review this submission, it is our full expectation that it will have the requisite amount of detail to ensure defueling work can begin.”
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DOH rejected the Navy’s initial Red Hill defueling plan, citing a lack of details.
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz called the new plan a “step in the right direction,” but said more must be done.
“Shutting down Red Hill cannot be delayed,” he said. “While the updated plan to close the facility sooner is a step in the right direction, DoD must make it a priority to move fast and permanently shut down Red Hill as quickly as possible.”
“We also need the Joint Task Force to become fully operational. That means the Secretary of Defense must act quickly and name its commander, a role that will serve as DoD’s on-the-ground leader responsible for working with state and local officials to safely defuel the tanks.”
Community groups have mixed reactions.
Some called it a first step while others say it’s not fast enough.
“Let’s say an oil company was operating these tanks. They could clean it up in a year,” said attorney Daniel Cooper
“There’s several tanks. If they really wanted to get get that fuel out, they could get it out immediately,” said John Miller of Wai Ola Alliance, which is suing the Navy the over alleged violations of federal clean water laws.
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