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Navy to conduct second review of Red Hill fuel spills

AEIA, Hawaiʻi (Feb. 23, 2022) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan gets a tour of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chelsea D. Meiller)
Petty Officer 2nd Class Chelsea /Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet
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AEIA, Hawaiʻi (Feb. 23, 2022) U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael S. Regan gets a tour of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chelsea D. Meiller)

The Navy will conduct a second investigation into the cause of two major fuel leaks at the Red Hill fuel depot after determining its first probe was lacking.

The Navy investigated the fuel leaks in May and November of 2021, which are suspected of contaminating its Pearl Harbor water distribution system with jet fuel.

The review was completed in January, but the results have not been publicly released.

A statement from the Navy’s Chief of Information, Rear Admiral Charlie Brown, says that while the initial review was sound in some respects, it was ultimately insufficient.

The Navy says the supplemental investigation will further identify facts related to the May and November incidents, and the actions taken in response.

It says the first investigation may have interfered with the Navy’s efforts to respond to the crisis, and the new investigation will look into how the Navy reacted to the crisis — and the appropriateness of the response.

Since the Navy conducted the investigation, it has announced that it will defuel the Red Hill facility and move hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel elsewhere.

The facility, built into the side of a mountain during World War II to protect them from enemy attack, had leaked into a drinking water well and contaminated water at Pearl Harbor homes and offices.

Nearly 6,000 people, mostly those living in military housing at or near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam were sickened, seeking treatment for nausea, headaches, rashes and other ailments. And 4,000 military families were forced out of their homes and are in hotels.

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