Environmental activists speak out on EPA’s proposed Red Hill consent order

Environmental activists marched in this year’s parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 5:36 PM HST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:16 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Environmental activists marched in this year’s parade honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who’s credited for paving the way for the environmental justice movement.

“As we are yelling shut down Red Hill, someone actually yelled back, you are doing the King’s work,” said Melodie Aduja, co-chair of environmental caucus for the Democratic Party of Hawaii.

On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold a public meeting on its proposed consent order which would require the Navy to safely defuel and close the Red Hill facility and properly operate and maintain its Pearl Harbor drinking water system.

This after 2021 fuel leaks contaminated the Navy’s tap water and it took months before the state health department gave the all-clear.

“We need to drain the tanks, we need to drain them now,” said Aduja.

Board of Water Supply Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau sent a letter to its customers, giving six reasons for opposing the EPA order, including there’s no clear deadlines; no strict penalties; and it does not address the latest spill of fire fighting foam concentrate.

“When you look back at the 2015 administrative order of consent, nothing has happened so they’ve dragged this along that way all this time and now they are throwing another 2023 consent order. I foresee nothing happening as well,” said Aduja.

U.S. Rep. Ed Case appeared on Sunrise Monday and said the shut down of Red Hill should be faster, but cautions it needs to move safely.

“It needs to move deliberately and then we can’t make other mistakes as we go through that process and so I think it is moving at the pace that is necessary to ensure that we get it done as fast as possible, but as safely as possible,” he said.

On Wednesday, there will be town hall on the EPA’s proposed consent order and an open house.

On Thursday, the EPA will host an open house and webinar on its Red Hill activities. The EPA is asking for comment.