HONOLULU (KHON2) — Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility continues to be a source of stress for many who live on O’ahu. The recent EPA Consent Order for Red Hill has done little to quell outrage over the leaks that continue to come. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply released its response to the Consent Order for Red Hill.
BWS points out that concerns over Red Hill have been taking place for years. They claim that although there has been many agencies and voices demanding that the Navy do better, nothing is being done to heed the concerns of the residents who live here and the Native Hawaiians who are protectors of the ‘aina and wai.
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BWS said that “while the BWS supports strong regulatory action to address releases of fuel and other hazardous substances from the Red Hill facility, we are extremely disappointed with the provisions of the proposed 2023 Consent Order which lacks details, clear timelines, strict penalties and public transparency.”
They go further to say that “for years, the BWS has been sounding the alarm concerning the imminent peril posed by the ongoing fuel storage operations at Red Hill to our irreplaceable drinking water resources, and for the past several months we have been stressing the need for quick and decisive action to defuel and permanently close the facility and restore our drinking water resources. Unfortunately, these pleas continue to go unheeded.”
BWS does not believe the consent order does enough to hold the Navy accountable for the destruction of O’ahu’s only water supply. The EPA did not deal with the aqueous film forming foam spill that recently occurred. Most surprising is the lack of mention of local input on how and when the facility will be closed.
BWS argued that “the 2023 Consent Order simply does not go far enough. The draft order does not establish a firm schedule for defueling and closure. It does not impose mandatory penalties for Navy noncompliance. It provides no meaningful opportunity for stakeholder and public input or any defined role for external subject matter experts.”
They expound their argument and stated that “most egregiously, there is no mention of the latest release of aqueous film forming foam [AFFF[ containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances [PFAS] and the impacts of such releases to our drinking water. Defueling and closure is only the first step in what will be a long process to address the harm to the environment and the human health effects caused by numerous releases from the Red Hill facility, and the investigation and remediation of those releases must be prioritized not neglected.”
BWS demanded that the Navy become transparent in its dealings with the Red Hill facility. They point out that they were not asked to help create a plan for the dismantling of Red Hill and make note of the fact that the aquifer that exists below the facility is irreplaceable.
BWS made a point to highlight that “the defueling, permanent closure of, and the PFAS releases at the Red Hill facility call for immediate action, complete transparency and independent and impartial third-party scrutiny, not the same failed policies and oversight practices that led to the contamination of our irreplaceable sole-source groundwater aquifer.”
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BWS concluded by stating that they were “not consulted in the development of the draft order and will provide detailed comments once its review of the recently released draft order is complete.”