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Josh Green says he feels strongly the Red Hill fuel will have to be moved above ground

Hawaii Governor David Y. Ige via Flickr

With Gov. David Ige at a governors' conference in California, acting Gov. Josh Green met with military officials over the Red Hill water crisis. He also visited the massive underground fuel tank facility Friday afternoon, but he said he will leave any emergency declaration proceedings to Ige.

The last time Green visited the facility was in 2014 when some 27,000 gallons leaked from one of the massive tanks.

"The reality is those tanks are 80 years old. There is some leakage that occurs, although it's difficult to ascertain how much. And the recent spill was likely from some human error based on movement of the fuel through much smaller pipes," Green said. "But notwithstanding any excuse, we have to make sure there's total clean water for people."

Green said he feels strongly that the fuel will have to be moved above ground.

The Navy is contesting orders from Ige and the health department to suspend use of fuel tanks and defuel them.

The Navy already said it was suspending use of the fuel storage complex near Pearl Harbor following days of complaints that tap water smells like fuel and has sickened some people — but Hawaiʻi's order demands that the suspension remains in effect until independent evaluators can ensure that appropriate actions are taken.

"I think it's probably worth sharing: the tanks themselves, of which there are a huge number of them, they are as big as football fields," Green told The Conversation. "They hold basically well over 100 million gallons of fuel. It's not like filling up your car and then going with a gas tank to another small tank. I mean, these are kind of the biggest tanks in the world."

"It's gonna take a lot of federal resource to repurpose this program, to get stuff above ground," Green added.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Dec. 10, 2021. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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