Navy criticized for paving over toxic foam spill area with tests pending
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The investigation into a toxic foam spill is being finalized and will soon be submitted to the Joint Task Force for Red Hill for review, the Navy said on Tuesday.
In an update posted on Tuesday, military officials said that they have “successfully” removed the contamination and paved over the excavated areas.
That drew concern from some environmentalists, who said the area shouldn’t have been paved until testing is complete.
It’s almost been a month since nearly 1,300 gallons of toxic firefighting foam concentrate leaked at the Red Hill Fuel Facility.
Since the spill, the Navy has been doing weekly groundwater sampling.
However, they said results are still pending for a soil test completed on Dec. 15.
Environmental advocates said they are disturbed by the military’s timing of re-paving the area.
“We really don’t know how much soil was contaminated,” said Melodie Aduja, of the Environmental Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawaii.
Added Wayne Tanaka, director of Sierra Club of Hawaii:
“One of the things I’m really concerned about, too, is that by pouring concrete over the contaminated areas, there’s no opportunity for third party testing to see if they really did ensure that all these chemicals have been cleaned up.”
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As the military finalizes the investigation into the spill of toxic firefighting foam concentrate — known as AFFF — maintenance and repairs have resumed as part of the Navy’s defueling efforts.
The Joint Task Force for Red Hill said 253 repairs are needed at the storage facility.
So far, 29 have been completed.
“To me, they are moving at a snail’s pace,” said Aduja. “We really need to pump it up and get rid of the fuel, we don’t need any more AFFF.”
Tanaka said it seems like the Navy is fixated on “deferred maintenance and putting existing infrastructure on” rather than creating new infrastructure.
Since the Joint Task Force on Red Hill resumed repair work this week, the Navy said there is no impact on the defueling timeline, which is still slated for mid-2024.
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