BIG NEWS-Navy request for 5-year permit to operate Red Hill raises red flags
State environmental regulators said this week that the Navy has not proved it can safely operate its underground Red Hill fuel tanks, which in recent years have been the subject of mounting concerns over leaks and groundwater contamination.
The conclusion, submitted by the Hawaii Department of Health’s Environmental Health Administration as part of a contested case hearing, raises the possibility that the state might DENY the Navy a five-year permit to continue to operate the facility!
To: Secretary of the Navy; Hawai’i Congressional Delegation; Governor of State of Hawai'i; Director, Hawaii’s Department of Health; Environmental Protection Agency
Protect Oahu's Drinking Water-Shut Down 20 Massive 75 Yr. Old Jet Fuel Tanks at Red Hill
We demand that the U.S. Navy empty and shut down twenty giant 75-year-old leaking jet fuel tanks that are embedded in Red Hill above Pearl Harbor Naval Base and that sit 100 feet above the water supply of Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii.
Why is this important?
The U.S. Navy has 225 million gallons of jet fuel stored in twenty, 20-story fuel tanks constructed 75 years ago during World War II inside Red Hill. These tanks sit a mere 100 feet above Honolulu’s water supply.
We do not trust in 75+ year-old tanks that now are as thin as a dime with the pressure of 12.5 million gallons in each tank.
State and Federal officials are also concerned about the U.S. Navy’s plan for the tanks and in a October 26, 2020 letter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the State of Hawaii’s Department of Health rejected the U.S. Navy’s plan for the tanks as “deficient.”
According to ABS Consulting, a firm hired by the U.S. Navy, there is a 27.6% chance of a leak of up to 30,000 gallons of fuel during any given year which has been called a “conservative" estimate by an EPA specialist.
ABS also calculated a 34% chance of a release of over 120,000 gallons in the next 100 years. Chronic, undetected releases are expected to total 5,803 gallons per year, according to ABS.
In 2014, Fuel tank #5 leaked 24,000 gallons. That same fuel tank was put back into operation in 2020.
In September 2019, the Navy released its preferred plan on how to upgrade the Red Hill tanks after studying six tank upgrade options. The Navy’s preferred choice—the least protective and least expensive option—is to keep the original steel tank liner, coat it with epoxy, and explore installing a water treatment plant to filter toxic chemicals from Oʻahu’s drinking water in the case of another major leak.
The plan also commits to some undefined, undetermined “double-wall equivalency” solution or relocation of the tanks “around 2045”– which proposes to extend the deadline to upgrade the tanks another 7 years using some unknown, future technology that is not actually a double-walled solution.
The idea of putting off another 20 years until 2045 a decision on the future of the tanks is irresponsible. Other Department of Defense fuel tanks locations have replaced their aging fuel tanks that too have had leaks. With the largest budget in U.S. history-over $780 billion this year, DOD can certainly put into its budget the removal of the fuel tanks from Red Hill.
The $194 million overhaul of the Point Loma-San Diego, California fuel tanks began in 2005 and was finished in 2013. 54 underground and above-ground fuel storage tanks were replaced with eight tanks, all above ground. Fuel tanks at Kitsap Naval Base, Washington are also being replaced.
While Department of Defense will cite national security for the necessity of retaining the tanks, as residents of Oahu we believe our human security demands the protection of our water supply. We residents of Oahu rely on the Department of Health to protect us from danger. Red Hill jet fuel tanks are the biggest danger the residents of Oahu have.
Following are among many documents that provide evidence of the dangers of Red Hill jet fuel tanks to our public safety: