Joint Task Force-Red Hill releases investigation into November forever chemical spill
Six months ago, the U.S. Navy reported a 1,300 spill of a highly concentrated Aqueous Film Forming Foam at the infamous Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oʻahu.
In a released investigation, the Joint Task Force-Red Hill states the Navy’s “quality assurance process did not identify and remedy the improperly installed air vacuum valve in April 2022 that led to the inadvertent AFFF release.”
The so-called forever chemical was discharged from a containment vessel known as Adit 6, and pooled on the floor before seeping outside onto a paved access road and into the nearby soil.
The Navy, under the guidance of the state Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, then dug up and removed the soil, asphalt, concrete and underground culvert affected by the spill. The opened areas were backfilled with new soil or gravel.
According to the preliminary investigation from U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Richard J. Heitkamp, the installation of a drain line on the wrong outlet of the air vacuum valve created a bypass through the valve.
“The AFFF fire suppression system is problematic; it has inadvertently released AFFF multiple times and has required modification to address shortfalls,” Heitkamp wrote.
JTF-RH Commander Vice Adm. John Wade said the lengthy investigation period “allowed us to effectively determine how and why the release occurred.”
“We used this information to immediately implement risk reduction measures across the entire facility and to notify the Department of Defense of actions that can be taken to further reduce risk in areas outside the purview of JTF-RH,” Wade said in a release.