HONOLULU (KHON2) — Joint Task Force – Red Hill announced it is on track with its plan to defuel the Red Hill storage facility by June of next year. Meanwhile, a group of kupuna is holding the Navy accountable and they are pressing on the need to prevent another environmental crisis for the future generations.
Moanalua residents living right next to Red Hill are fed up with the environmental injustice they see by the Navy after thousands of gallons of fuel leaked into the potable water of entire communities back in 2021. Some residents like David Nakamoto said a timeline to remove the fuel from the tanks by next year is not acceptable.
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Nakamoto said, “What was disturbing later is that in response to the shutdown order they came up with the defueling plan that would take nearly two years to on a day a completely unacceptable timetable.”
Kupuna from the Moanalua community joined their voices to raise awareness about protecting the island’s natural resources.
Collen Hayashida said he has lived in the area for more than two decades. He is a retired university professor who said he wants to spend his time on initiatives to protect the island’s water and other resources.
“We are very much trying to organize using the power and potential of older adults who are retired and who are concerned about the future of our Hawaii,” Hayashida said. “Life expectancy is about 85 so I got seven more years, eight, seven or eight more years to go, ok. And the question is what do I want to do with the rest of my life? Do I want to sit down and watch television every day or do I want to do something that is useful?”
The latest status report from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command Joint Task Force said crews completed 100 of 253 repairs and modifications at the fuel storage facility. The repairs are submitted to the state’s department of health for approval and need to be completed before defueling begins. The Navy said it is on track with a plan to finish by June 2024.
Although State Senator Donna Mercado Kim remains skeptical of the Navy and questions its transparency through the process.
Kim said, “The Navy feels that they can do what they want, because we have no control, or have leverage, we have no oversight.”
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The task force is also preparing an environmental assessment and has said it will include input from the community.
The group of concerned citizens along with the Sierra Club of Hawaii are planning the “Walk for Water to Shut Down Red Hill,” scheduled for the morning of April 23 at Ala Moana park.