DOH investigator describes video of toxic fire suppressant spill

For the first time the state health department is describing video that hasn't been released to the public showing the toxic spill at Red Hill.
Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 5:41 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 8, 2023 at 7:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - For the first time, the state health department is describing video that hasn’t been released to the public showing the toxic spill at Red Hill. It happened more than two months ago, but the public is still in the dark about what actually happened.

In early December, the Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agenda viewed military video of the November 28 spill of 1,300 gallons of toxic firefighting foam concentrate or AFFF from the Red Hill Bulk Storage Fuel Facility.

Fenix Grange, DOH’S Groundwater Lead, told Hawaii News Now the video is from a camera focused on a door and the spill runs under it.

“You see people coming in and out. At some point, you see the AFFF compound which just looks like water in that case coming out under that so it’s outside the facility,” Grange told Hawaii News Now in an exclusive interview.

Grange said PFAS compounds in AFFF are like dish soap which which break down oils. She says the concern is if PFAS compounds run into past fuel spills.

“If it was able to migrate far down into the aquifer and run into oil than it might conceivably mobilize that oil,” she said.

“If we want to maintain good integrity of the investigation, the video is considered evidence,” Brigadier General Lance Okamura, Director for Strategic Engagement, Joint Task Force-Red Hill told Hawaii News Now.

He says the investigation is being reviewed by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

“We have to follow the rules and in following those rules I’m sure it’s causing some consternation about timeliness,” said Okamura.

“There is no reason the public should be barred from getting basic information and security footage that documents a major threat to our sole source aquifer,” said Mikey Inouye, Oahu Water Protectors.

But Okamura said the military is following the process in finding out what happened and remedial actions.

“I’m fully empathetic to the public,” he said.

The EPA also wants to know about the military’s historical releases of AFFF. That deadline passed on Monday.

“We have not received an updated time frame. We’ve been asking and requiring of the Navy to provide that information as soon as it it available,” Alison Fong, Assistant Director Resource Conservation Recovery Act Branch. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 told Hawaii News Now.

Correction: Brigadier General Lance Okamura is the Director for Strategic Engagement for Joint Task Force-Red Hill. An earlier version of the story had an incorrect title.