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700 Gallons Of Fuel Recovered After Leak At Navy's Red Hill Storage Facility

US Navy Region Hawaii

About 700 gallons of fuel were recovered Friday after 1,000 gallons leaked from a fuel line at the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, according to the Hawaii Department of Health and the Navy Region Hawaii.

The Navy said a distribution pipeline inside the facility "released" about 1,000 gallons of fuel on Thursday night. Its fuel containment system "properly monitored, detected, and collected the fuel release as designed."

There was no indication that fuel was released to the environment, according to Capt. Gordie Meyer, Commanding Officer of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii.

There was no word yet on the exact cause.

The health department has requested additional daily monitoring and reporting from the Navy. The department said it was first notified of the incident early Friday morning and will conduct its own investigation as soon as it's safe for staff to enter the site.

This comes after an estimated 27,000 gallons of jet fuel from a tank at the facility leaked into the surrounding area in 2014. 

Credit Hawaii Department of Health

Environmental groups said the leak was a sign of what's to come.

"It's not surprising that the Red Hill tanks leaked. They have a long history of leaking. And the Navy itself said there was a 27.6% chance of the tanks leaking up to 30,000 gallons of fuel every single year,” said David Kimo Frankel, attorney for the Sierra Club of Hawai?i. “It’s only going to get worse from here. The tanks need to be drained.”

After the 2014 leak, studies detected petroleum contamination in the groundwater beneath the tanks, the Sierra Club said.

"This latest leak proves, once again, that the 78-year old Red Hill fuel tanks are deteriorating and pose a serious threat to drinking water for hundreds of thousands of O?ahu residents. It's time to retire the tanks," said Kyle Kajihiro, Hawai?i Peace and Justice.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply said, "This recent leak incident further heightens the board's concerns and the risk of leaks in the future. Our drinking water aquifer is a precious resource that cannot be replaced. The BWS again asks the Navy to promptly install a tank-within-a tank secondary containment at Red Hill or to relocate the fuel away from our potable water aquifer."

Senator Mazie Hirono, Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, also issued a statement.

“Earlier today, I spoke with Admiral Aquilino – who provided me with an update on the fuel release at Red Hill. While the initial assessment is ongoing, Admiral Aquilino assured me that the detection and response system worked and the fuel release is contained. He will stay in touch with me and my office as the Navy completes its investigation and clean-up. He will also review the notification process to ensure all appropriate parties are promptly informed. This incident reaffirms the need for clear and transparent information to be communicated in a timely manner."

“As Chair of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, I will continue to closely monitor and engage with military leadership and the local community regarding the Red Hill facility. We all have the same goal, which is to keep our drinking water safe," she said.

The facility can store up to 250 million gallons of fuel--20 tanks each with a capacity of about 12.5 million gallons, according to the Navy.

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