Navy, EPA, state outline steps to upgrade Red Hill fuel storage facility

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The U.S. Navy and Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) came to agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) and signed the Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) for the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility this week.

In January 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from underground storage tanks, and officials want to make sure it never happens again.

The Navy and DLA first signed the AOC in May; however following a public comment period, EPA and DOH made a number of amendments to which the Navy and DLA agreed.

You can read the new, signed Administrative Order on Consent here.

The signing puts into motion specific required actions. These actions will enhance the protection of Oahu’s drinking water resources by continuously upgrading the facility with the best available practicable technology. It will also enhance understanding of the hydrogeology of the area surrounding the facility.

Within the next 30 days, scoping meetings will be held with the regulators to identify current alternatives and requirements of specific deliverables in each of the following areas and implementing approved modifications:

  • Tank inspection, repair and maintenance procedures
  • Tank upgrades
  • Release detection/tank tightness testing procedures
  • Corrosion and metal fatigue control practices
  • Investigation and remediation of releases
  • Refine the existing groundwater flow model
  • Develop a contaminant fate and transport model report
  • Assess and if necessary begin installation of additional monitoring wells
  • Prepare a report assessing the level of risk the facility may pose to groundwater and drinking water aquifers

“On behalf of Commander Navy Region Hawaii and the Defense Logistics Agency, I’d like to express our strong commitment to environmental stewardship, and our non-negotiable priority to keeping our drinking water safe. After many months of negotiations we are pleased to have an agreed process in place that both protects Hawaii’s drinking water and allows us to plan for the future of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility,” said Capt. Ken Epps, commanding officer for the Naval Supply Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor. “A facility of this magnitude and strategic importance to the United States presented a unique situation and required a unique approach of our regulators. Together we will continue to protect Hawaii’s drinking water resources for generations to come and provide for the Nation’s defense at the same time.”

“The signing of this agreement is the critical first step to making improvements to protect the groundwater resources beneath and surrounding the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility,” said Keith Kawaoka, Hawaii Department of Health’s Deputy Director of Environmental Health. “We are committed to work with the EPA, the U.S. Navy and the DLA to overcome the significant challenges associated with these unique and massive storage tanks to get the job done right and to protect public health and the environment.”

The AOC signing parties will host meetings at least annually to update the public on the progress of the various actions required under the Order.

While the consent order begins this week, the Navy says it has pursued significant upgrades to the Red Hill Facility since 2006.

“To date, the Navy and DLA have already invested $145 million in facility modernization and for environmental testing,” said Epps. “We plan to invest an additional $70 million in Red Hill over the next five years to further enhance the integrity of the tanks and operational efficiency of the facility. These numbers do not include any additional work required through the Administrative Order on Consent.”

Throughout the AOC negotiation and public comment process, the Navy says it has continued to move forward, identifying the best options available to modernize Red Hill and protect human health and the environment. For example:

  • The Navy awarded a contracted study in May 2015 to determine Best Available Practicable Technology for tank upgrades, improved Release Detection System options, and tank tightness testing alternatives. The final report is due February 2016. This study will be used in conjunction with additional studies required under the AOC to determine the best way forward for Red Hill Tanks.
  • A contract in the amount of $43 million was awarded on Aug. 25 to Hensel Phelps Construction Co. of Honolulu. The contract includes upgrading the fire suppression and ventilation systems, repairing existing and providing additional oil-tight doors along the tunnel, and providing new emergency voice and fire alarm system throughout the tunnel complex. This work is expected to be completed by September 2017.

In January 2014, while refilling Tank 5, the Navy identified a loss of jet fuel from the tank and reported it to DOH, estimating that about 27,000 gallons was released. The Navy drained the tank and collected samples from existing water monitoring wells. Results of samples taken around Tank 5 indicated a spike in levels of hydrocarbons. The Navy increased the frequency of monitoring at a nearby Navy drinking water well, and current monitoring results for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system confirmed they were in compliance with federal and state drinking water standards both before and after the January release.

The Red Hill facility is a national strategic asset that provides secure fuel storage for ships and aircraft of U.S. Pacific Fleet and other military branches. “While the facility’s value to our nation remains vital as America rebalances its forces to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, the Navy considers the availability of safe drinking water on Oahu to be a non-negotiable requirement,” said Capt. Dean Tufts, Regional Engineer for Navy Region Hawaii.

Click on the following to view more information from: the U.S. Navy and the Department of Health.

“The state will be safer and better off with this agreement than it would be without it,” said Gov. David Ige. “We listened carefully to the concerns of stakeholders whose input has strengthened the administrative order. This is the start of long-overdue action to make Hawai’i safer. It will increase transparency and is the best mechanism for holding the Navy accountable. The agreement will provide the framework for the state to address concerns about the safety of drinking water for our keiki and their families.”

After the announcement, Sen. Brian Schatz, D, Hawaii, released the following statement:

“The signed agreements between the EPA, the Hawai’i State Department of Health, the Navy, and Defense Logistics Agency provide a pragmatic path forward for the Navy to reduce the risk of future fuel leaks at the Red Hill facility and protect Oahu’s drinking water,” said Schatz. “But we have to remain vigilant. I will continue to work with the Navy to ensure it has the resources it needs to continuously monitor and upgrade the facility so that it can continue to safely operate this strategic fuel depot in the Asia Pacific. And I will closely monitor the Navy’s implementation of the Administrative Order on Consent and execution of the Statement of Work to ensure it is making good on its responsibilities to the people of Hawai’i and be a good steward of the environment.”

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