EPA ‘open house’ on Red Hill defueling prompts more questions but few new answers

It was round two for the EPA on Thursday as it hosted an “open house” to answer questions about a proposed consent decree to oversee Red Hill.
Published: Jan. 20, 2023 at 12:06 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - It was round two for the EPA on Thursday as it hosted an “open house” to answer questions about a proposed consent decree to oversee the Navy’s defueling of Red Hill.

The EPA estimates more than 100 people attended the event at the Oahu Veterans Center in Foster Village, which was much calmer than a sometimes-heated town hall meeting the night before.

“I learned a lot and we took a lot of notes and took a lot of value in hearing a lot from the community and their concerns,” said Amy Hill, the EPA’s enforcement director for Region 9.

Environmental groups and opponents of the proposed order are concerned that the EPA doesn’t fully understand Oahu’s unique water situation — and they showed up in force to make their voices heard.

Despite concerns, EPA insists consent order on Red Hill fuel facility’s shutdown is necessary

“There’s hope that if enough of us speak up and speak clearly, we’ll be able to get the critical changes needed,” said Wayne Tanaka, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii.

The state Department of Health, which wasn’t present at the Wednesday town hall, was at the open house. A frequent question: Why isn’t the DOH involved in the EPA’s consent decree process?

Deputy Health Director for Environmental Health Kathy Ho said that’s because the department already has its own emergency order.

“We feel that that order is more than sufficient to shut down, defuel and remediate the aquifer to protect public health and environment,” she said.

One question that still couldn’t be answered was when the EPA will have the final consent decree ready.

“I don’t have a target date, but it is important to me we move forward as quickly as possible,” said Miller.

Navy officials, including Joint Task Force Red Hill commander Vice Adm. John Wade, were also at the open house but declined comment to the media because the EPA was the lead agency.

Meanwhile, the EPA has given the public until Feb. 6 to submit comments on the consent decree.

Comments can be submitted by clicking here.