‘There is no playbook’: As next phase of Red Hill defueling begins, focus is on safety
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Now that the so-called “unpacking” of the Red Hill pipelines is finished, the Navy is turning its attention to repairs of the Red Hill fuel tanks ― a key phase required before emptying the tanks.
Rear Admiral John Wade, commander of the Joint Task Force in charge of defueling the Red Hill tanks, expects repairs and defueling to be completed by June 2024.
“Right now the plan for defueling is about four months,” said Wade.
He says he’s working with state and federal regulators to try to safely move the timeline up using new technologies and procedures along with the Defense Logistics Agency.
For continuing coverage on the Red Hill facility, click here.
“They are the ones that are going to help contract those bulk tankers and if we had more than one tanker you could obviously move faster,” said Wade.
“The magnitude and the enormity of it is we’re talking about 104 million gallons of fuel. We need to move it out safely and not get a drop into the aquifer,” he added.
Fourteen of the 20 underground tanks have fuel in them. The military has defueled above ground tanks, but never underground tanks like the ones at Red Hill.
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“There is no playbook, other than adhering to safety,” said Wade.
Each tank would be drained one at a time.
“We can empty one tank at a time to the pipeline. We don’t have to open all tanks to the pipeline,” said Capt. Shawn Triggs, commanding officer of the Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Fleet Logistics Center.
Before defueling can even begin, more than 250 repairs were outlined in a third party assessment that was mandated by the State’s Emergency Order to defuel and close the Red Hill facility.
“Repairs range from easy to hard. There’s some repairs in the pipelines, gauges, valves, also control systems and sensors,” said Wade.
How does the military avoid a potential leak?
“This is where that third party assessment came in. It’s repairs, modifications and enhancements to reduce risk, but you reduce risk by building resiliency,” said Wade.
That third party assessment was mandated by the state’s emergency order to defuel and close the Red Hill facility.
The state Department of Health says it’ll issue comments on the repairs Tuesday.
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