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Lawmakers progress 4 measures aimed at preventing another Red Hill fuel contamination crisis

red hill
Seaman Chris Thomas/Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
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DVIDS
AIEA, Hawaii (Jan. 14, 2022) - Pipes waiting for installation at the Red Hill Well Shaft. The Interagency Drinking Water System Team is a joint initiative where the U.S. Navy is working closely with the Hawaii Department of Health, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army to restore safe drinking water to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam housing communities through sampling and flushing, and recover the Red Hill Well to protect the aquifer. For detailed information, go to: www.navy.mil/jointbasewater. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Christopher Thomas)

State House lawmakers Tuesday approved several measures designed to prevent the Red Hill fuel contamination crisis from happening again.

The House committees on Health, Human Services and Homelessness, and Energy and Environmental Protection held a joint hearing on four bills related to the Red Hill water crisis.

One bill, HB 2514, would require that underground storage tanks hold no more than 100,000 gallons.

Another, HB 2515, calls on the state Department of Health to establish a local laboratory capable of doing more complex testing. At present, most water samples are sent to mainland laboratories for more stringent evaluation.

A third bill calls for an emergency appropriation to help the Honolulu Board of Water Supply take measures to remediate any contamination of the aquifer.

And a fourth prohibits any underground storage tanks from being located within a half-mile of the aquifer.

"We are committed to looking at various measures to make sure that Hawaiʻi is not put into this situation in the future.  And we’ve taken it seriously not only in looking at the issue of tanks, but also looking at a way of supporting future testing, which was a huge issue in the early stages of this crisis," said Rep. Ryan Yamane, chair of the Health, Human Services and Homelessness Committee.

All four bills were approved and will head to the full House for a floor vote.

In related news, a Honolulu City Council committee approved a bill that would give the city the right to regulate underground storage tanks.

Bill 48 now goes to the full council for a third and final vote on Feb. 23.

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