HONOLULU (KHON2) — The military will remove more than a hundred million gallons of fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Storage facility starting on Monday. Officials are assuring the public that the process will be done safely and transparently.
Two years after thousands of people on Oahu were sickened by the fuel spill at Red Hill, the military, the state, and the Environmental Protection Agency stood together on Friday to hold a news conference to announce what they call a milestone.
The governor said he’s confident and hopeful that the plan to remove 104 million gallons of fuel from the massive tanks that sit above the aquifer will be a success.
“This is an enormous process, they have planned extensively for all possible scenarios. It’s vital that we trust one another, it’s vital that we do this right,” said Gov. Josh Green.
Officials explained that there will be a three-part process to remove Red Hill beginning with defueling, followed by the complete closure of the facility then continuing with the full remediation of the aquifer. They reassured that the environmental impacts of the removal of Red Hill will be monitored every step of the way to adhere to proper guidelines.
“We will be monitoring the water. We will be monitoring the soil vapor content. We will be monitoring the air. Everything to sense and to understand the environment to ensure we are doing everything safely,” said Vice Adm. John Wade, JTF-RH Commander.
While concerns have been raised about the safety of the workers, the commander of Joint Task Force Red Hill said his team has coordinated with different agencies to make sure that they’re ready to respond in the event of a spill or a fire.
“We have drilled together as mandated by the regulators. I’m confident that if there were an issue that we will be working and communicating together with urgency and speed to mitigate any impact,” said Vice-Admiral John Wade.
Wade vows that the public will also be informed.
“Look, it is so important to keep you informed and to understand what we’re doing. I understand how important that is and my commitment is to keep on doing that throughout this entire process,” said Wade.
“I know together, our voice will continue to monitor the progress and compel the military to keep its promise to ensure that we have safe drinking water for our future generations,” said Kathleen Ho, deputy director for Environmental Health Administration at the Hawaii Department of Health.
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Wade said the defueling portion will probably be done by early Spring. He added that there are 275 people from his team involved in the process.