Rep. Tulsi Gabbard ‘Deeply Troubled’ by EPA Statement & Concerns Regarding Red Hill Fuel Storage Leak

October 6, 2016
Press Release

Honolulu, HI–Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after today’s Underground Fuel Tank Advisory Committee meeting that focused on public health and safety issues surrounding fuel storage leaks at the Red Hill facility near Pearl Harbor:

“The EPA’s statement today that the 'lack in detail, transparency, and collaboration' regarding the Navy’s plan for the scope of work being proposed at Red Hill is deeply troubling.  The Navy’s failure to meet the October 15th resubmittal deadline to the EPA for the rejected portions of their work plan is unacceptable.  The people of Oʻahu deserve the Navy’s full compliance and urgent attention to ensure the safety of the water aquifer and drinking water.  The Navy must treat this situation with the urgency it deserves and prioritize the planning and work that needs to be executed at the facility.  As the most isolated island chain in the world, the importance of protecting our water resources in Hawaiʻi cannot be overestimated.  The actions we take now not only impact the health and safety of our current generations, but every generation to come.”

The Hawaiʻi Department of Health’s Underground Fuel Tank Advisory Committee hosted its inaugural meeting today and focused on public health and safety issues surrounding fuel storage leaks at the Red Hill facility near Pearl Harbor.  The Department of Health (DOH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rejected the proposed scope of work put forward by the Navy concerning the “Investigation and Remediation of Releases” and the “Groundwater Protection and Evaluation” portions of the Administrative Order of Consent.  

There were twelve reasons listed for the rejection by the DOH and EPA. In summary, the method in which the Navy was proposing to study and monitor the subsurface conditions surrounding the facility, to include the movement of water throughout the aquifer, were not adequate.  The Navy has until October 15th to submit an updated plan to the EPA.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has personally toured the Red Hill fuel storage facility, closely reviewing the revised Administrative Order on Consent and Scope of Work, and discussed her concerns with the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency, Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Hawaiʻi State Legislators, community stakeholders, and her constituents.

Background

Pursuant to ACT 244 of the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, the Underground Fuel Tank Advisory Committee was formed to study issues related to leaks of field-constructed underground fuel storage tanks located throughout Hawaiʻi.  Stakeholders include the Hawaiʻi Congressional Delegation, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, Senator Mazie Hirono, the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, and the Salt Lake Residential Community Board.

The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility supports military operations in the Pacific. This facility, which is unlike any other in the United States, can store up to 250 million gallons of fuel. It consists of 20 steel lined tanks, encased in concrete, and built into cavities that were mined inside of Red Hill. Each tank has a storage capacity of approximately 12.5 million gallons. The tanks are connected to three pipelines that run 2.5 miles through a tunnel to fueling piers at Pearl Harbor. Presently, 18 tanks are operational, and two are not. Each of the 20 tanks at Red Hill measures 100 feet in diameter and is 250 feet in height. The cavity in which the tanks are built lies under approximately 100 feet of rock. Near Pearl Harbor, a pumping station at the end of the pipelines controls the filling of the tanks as well as dispensing fuel to ships and to nearby Hickam Air Field.

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