HONOLULU (KHON2) — There are growing calls for the Navy to shut down its Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility for good. This comes amid fears that it could contaminate most of Oahu’s drinking water. Now the City Council is looking at proposals to force the Navy’s hand.
The City Council has proposed a bill that would require any operator of large storage tanks to get a permit from the city and must prove that it will not leak any dangerous substances. It’s also pushing a resolution to remove the storage tanks at Red Hill which sit 100 feet above the aquifer. The proposals received overwhelming approval from residents who testified.
“The Navy cannot prove the tanks won’t leak. They haven’t been able to prove this before, and they will never be able to,” said Anna Chua.
“We simply cannot allow Red Hill to endanger the aquifer and the people of Oahu any longer,” said Sam Ikehara. “Shutting down Red Hill immediately and permanently is the only way to guarantee the safety of the people and places we love.”
The state has already issued an emergency order for the Navy to come up with a plan to defuel the tanks. The Navy plans to fight the order. It has said that the tanks are needed to provide fuel for all military branches and its underground as a matter of national security.
“It’s not national security when you’re about ready to poison over 400,000 people in the lands where these tanks are. The Navy is actually a danger to our national security by letting these tanks continue to leak,” said Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel.
The Board of Water Supply (BWS) has been pushing for the tanks to be removed since the first leak was revealed in 2014.
“Navy, please just wake up and realize that fuel is important for our national security, but water is also important for the security, for their service people and their families, but also for the community of Oahu,” said Ernie Lau, BWS manager and chief engineer.
It’s been more than two weeks since families in military housing noticed fuel in their tap water. Many have gotten sick and thousands of them are still without running water so they’re staying in hotels. BWS says if fuel gets into the BWS Halawa Shaft, which is near Red Hill, it would be extremely catastrophic.
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“Talking about replacing all of Honolulu’s pipelines, we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, several years of actually trying to do that,” said Erwin Kawata, BWS water quality administrator.