Hawaiʻi issues 2nd emergency order to Navy to defuel and close Red Hill
It’s been six months since fuel was found in the Navy water system, forcing thousands of military families out of their homes and into hotel rooms just before the holiday season. Those families have since returned home and their water systems have been flushed.
Gov. David Ige and the Department of Health issued a new emergency order to the Navy on Friday to defuel the Red Hill underground fuel storage facility. The military has said it will not appeal.
"What we wanted to do in this emergency order is to really bring everything up to date, so that we could ensure that we set expectations to safely defuel and close the facility," said Deputy Environmental Health Director Kathleen Ho.
The Navy must provide its independent contractor’s assessment on facility operations by May 15, a plan and implementation schedule to defuel by June 30, and a plan for closure of the facility by Nov. 1.
Ho said the Navy has withdrawn the complaints it filed in federal and state courts against the first emergency order.
"The only issue I believe that's remaining is the permitting of the tanks. However, the Navy has also withdrawn its application to obtain a permit from the Department of Health to operate the tanks," Ho told The Conversation.
A Red Hill advisory committee meeting with the Navy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and city and state health officials is set for Friday.
Health officials are still monitoring Oʻahu's aquifer for any possible contamination, Ho said.
"The long-term monitoring plan for the drinking water and investigation is ongoing at the residences. We are also removing water from the aquifer by way of the granulated-activated system that is then deposited into the Halawa Stream," she said. "So we're still doing our investigation on the movement and cleanup of the aquifer."
This interview aired on The Conversation on May 11, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.