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Honolulu City Council approves bill requiring permits for large underground storage tanks

US Navy Region Hawaii

The Honolulu City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved and sent to Mayor Rick Blangiardi a bill that would require a city permit to operate large storage tanks like those at Red Hill.

Councilmembers voted unanimously to pass Bill 48, which would require a permit for any storage tanks with a capacity of 100,000 gallons. Each tank at Red Hill can hold 12.5 million gallons of jet fuel.

The permit application would have to be filed with a department to be designated by the mayor.

"I have rarely seen city, state and federal elected officials move in the same direction.  But it’s actually happening on this issue, and we are not going to sit out on this one," Councilmember Andria Tupola said. "We are moving this measure to show our commitment and I want to mahalo those who have testified, made noise, written letters, served on the Red Hill Advisory Commission because this has been years of trying to handle this issue."

The city permit would require an applicant to demonstrate that the tank will not leak into the environment, and would not be in effect for more than five years. It could also be revoked under certain conditions.

Supporters of the measure say it is an important step in protecting Oʻahu’s aquifer, which lies just 100 feet below the Red Hill tanks.

The Navy is already required to obtain a permit from the state Department of Health to operate the fuel depot. It was in the process of seeking a permit renewal when the water contamination crisis at Pearl Harbor erupted.

Honolulu Civil Beat reports Blangiardi is expected to sign the bill.

Scott Kim was a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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