Draining of pipes that lead to Red Hill tanks nearly complete

FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2021, photo, officials tour the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
FILE - In this Dec. 23, 2021, photo, officials tour the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.(Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Luke McCall/U.S. Navy via AP, File)
Published: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:32 PM HST|Updated: Nov. 2, 2022 at 5:50 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The commander in charge of defueling Red Hill says he expects draining of the pipelines leading to underground tanks to be completed Thursday.

That will allow the next phase of work to begin.

“I just got the latest update and I think we are going to go into tomorrow probably in the morning or the early afternoon,” said Rear Admiral John Wade in a one-on-one interview with Hawaii News Now.

“We are almost there,” he added.

He says unpacking of the lines is going a little slower than expected.

Navy proposes defueling Red Hill but keeping tanks in place for ‘beneficial reuse’

“We are in our final phase where we are pulling fuel from the low point of the system and the pumps that we are using are pulling at a lower rate than we calculated,” said Wade.

“Everything is fine. It’s going a little bit slower. We are prioritizing safety over speed,” he added.

HNN asked Wade during this part of the mission has any fuel spilled? “Not one drop, but we are not done yet so my focus to the team is to continue with precision. No complacency,” he said.

The pipelines had more than 1 million gallons of fuel and are 3.5 miles from the underground Red Hill fuel tanks to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

The two lines with aviation fuels are done. The last remaining fuel is marine diesel fuel.

Once the pipelines are drained, extensive repairs to the facility can begin.

And only once that’s done can crews begin emptying the tanks.

Defueling is expected to last until mid-2024.