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Federal spending bill passes with funding to drain Red Hill fuel tanks

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US Navy Region Hawaii
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The U.S. Senate approved legislation Thursday to fund the federal government for the next several weeks, avoiding a shutdown. The measure allocates millions of dollars to the Red Hill water contamination crisis.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been struggling to come to terms on a federal budget bill for fiscal year 2022, which began last September. The latest appropriation measure keeps the federal government functioning through March 11.

The legislation includes $350 million to be spent on the Red Hill water contamination emergency.

Of that, $250 million will go to military branches to cover expenses incurred as a result of fuel contamination of the Navy’s water distribution system in the Pearl Harbor area.

Another $100 million will go to the Department of Defense to facilitate the state’s directive to drain the fuel tanks at Red Hill.

Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono say they will continue to fight for additional funding to deal with the Red Hill crisis in future spending bills.

“The Department of Defense must fully comply with the State of Hawaii’s Executive Order to defuel the tanks at Red Hill and this funding is a necessary step to ensure that happens," Hirono said in a statement.

Thousands of residents near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam have reported illnesses as a result of fuel contamination of their tap water.

The bill was signed by President Joe Biden on Friday, Feb. 18.

Scott Kim is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact him at skim@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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