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House reestablishes Red Hill working group amid continuous concern

hawaii house of representatives state legislature 011823
Sophia McCullough
The Hawaiʻi House of Representatives on the opening day of the legislative session on Jan. 18, 2023.

The state House of Representatives has reestablished a House Special Committee on Red Hill this session.

The seven-member group will address issues related to the U.S. Navy's Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, water contamination and remediation, which continues to be a source of frustration for many.

Rep. Sonny Ganaden of Oʻahu represents areas of Kalihi and Hickam Village. During Tuesday's floor session, he said many of his constituents still face complications related to the November 2021 water contamination from the site.

"Despite notions that the federal government and the county have already come to agreements about this, I think the state still certainly has a role to play, and this House has a role to play because of our direct involvement with our communities.," Ganaden said. "We're supposed to be the closest to them, hearing directly from them."

The group will work with state agencies and the community and build upon their efforts from the last two years.

"As the representative of many people who were displaced in 2021, our office hears some pretty horrendous stories about people who've had to move away, health issues, and we know that these are going to be coming up," Ganaden said.

"I think that for the duration of my career here in this House, I'm going to be hearing about Red Hill," he said.

In addition to the working group, lawmakers have made proposals for continued monitoring of Red Hill. House Bill 319 proposes and appropriates money for a Red Hill water contamination health impacts program within the state Department of Health.

In addition to Ganaden, the committee includes Rep. Linda Ichiyama (Co-Chair), Rep. Nicole Lowen (Co-Chair), Rep. Micah P.K. Aiu, Rep. Della Au Belatti, Rep. Mark Hashem and Rep. Kanani Souza. In 2021, the state House had the House Interim Committee on Red Hill chaired by Lowen.

Sabrina Bodon is Hawaiʻi Public Radio's government reporter. Contact her at sbodon@hawaiipublicradio.org or 808-792-8252.
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