HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first tanker vessel that will store fuel from Red Hill has arrived in Hawaii.
The merchant tanker “Empire State” has the capacity to hold about 11 million gallons of fuel, but some raised safety concerns almost two years after thousands were sickened by the Red Hill fuel spill.
The 600-foot long tanker is the first to arrive at Pearl Harbor to hold fuel from Red Hill. Joint Task Force-Red Hill commander Nico Melendez gave a rundown to KHON2’s Wake Up 2Day team on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
“So, on Monday morning we’re going to start pumping the fuel, or not pumping, gravity defueling through the miles of pipelines down through the pipelines into the tanker and tanker after tanker will come through in the next few months to move the fuel,” Melendez explained.
Healani Sonoda-Pale of the Oahu Water Protectors had some concerns.
“The biggest question I have right now, are they going to ship it to somewhere else in the Hawaiian Islands? Concerns about have they inspected the tank, the tank holds millions of gallons of fuel,” Sonoda-Pale said.
A JTF-RH fact sheet shows that fuel will be loaded onto tanker ships before being transported to other Department of Defense fuel depots, commander Melendez said the fuel will to go Campbell Industrial Park, San Diego and the Philippines.
The Department of Health said defueling is just the beginning.
“Defueling is the first of three non-negotiable steps which is laid out by the DOH. After defueling, we can permanently close the tank sand finally remediation of our aquifers,” said DOH Environmental Health Deputy Director Kathleen Ho.