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Honolulu Committee Rejects Navy's Fuel Tank Upgrade Proposal

Chief Mass Communication Specialist Shawn P. Eklund
U.S. Navy
Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter tours the Red Hill underground fuel storage facility.

A Honolulu City Council committee passed a resolution asking regulators to reject a U.S. Navy proposal to upgrade a fuel storage facility, officials said.

The committee voted unanimously Wednesday to reject the Navy's plan to pursue tank upgrades at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

The Navy's Sept. 9 tank upgrade proposal has not yet received approval from the Environmental Protection Agency and state Department of Health, officials said.

The resolution passed by the public infrastructure, technology and sustainability committee seeks secondary containment tank upgrades.

If secondary containment is not possible, the city will pursue relocation of the facility's 20 underground fuel tanks away from the Southern Oahu Basal Aquifer, officials said.

The aquifer lies below the tanks and is the principal source of drinking water for more than 750,000 Oahu residents, officials said.

The full city council is scheduled to consider the resolution Nov. 6.

"We have an opportunity here to prevent contamination — tank-within-a-tank is the best solution," said Erwin Kawata of the city Board of Water Supply. "If that is unfeasible, the fuel should be removed and relocated away from the groundwater."

The deadline for tank upgrades is 2037, but the Navy has proposed an extended timeline to 2045. The extension would enable secondary containment of "double-wall equivalency" or, if that is not possible, removal of the fuel, officials said.

Single-wall constructed tanks are not the final solution and the Navy is pursuing secondary-containment technologies, although the "technology does not currently exist" for a fiscally responsible approach to the issue, said Capt. Marc Delao, regional engineer for Navy Region Hawaii.

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