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Red Hill defueling process resumes after remediation of toxic fire suppressant

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Defueling the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility has resumed this week following a four-week pause, according to the U.S. Navy's Joint Task Force - Red Hill team.

Defueling was stopped while the Navy addressed a Nov. 29 spill of a fire-suppressing concentrate, known as Aqueous Film Forming Foam, which is considered a “forever chemical” that does not break down naturally.

Dec. 15 soil testing samples, as well as weekly testing at nine monitoring wells in the area, are pending.

Remediation included the excavation and removal of asphalt, concrete and soil around the site of the leak. The underground culvert area was excavated and paved over, according to a release. Clean soil was used as backfill and paved over.

An additional interior remediation plan is under review by the state Department of Health.

Despite the month-long pause, the Navy said defueling is still scheduled to finish by June 2024. There are currently 253 repairs that need to be made to the facility, with 29 finished, 94 in progress and 130 to be awarded through contracts in the coming year.

An investigation into how and why the spill occurred is being finalized and will be publicly released.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Richard Heitkamp is leading the investigation.

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