HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Navy plans to defuel the Red Hill storage facility by July 2024, according to their revised plan released Wednesday afternoon. Their last plan, released on June 30th, was panned by officials who called it unacceptable and lacking substance.
The Department of Defense’s latest plan to defuel the Red Hill storage facility moves the completion date up six months to summer 2024. They said the new timeline shows their commitment to remedy the situation quickly and safely.
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In a statement Rear Adm. Steve Barnett, commander, Navy Region Hawaii, said:
“This plan represents considerable work by our DoD and Navy team along with the regulators and we remain completely focused on the safe and expeditious defueling of the facility. As we move forward, we will continually refine and improve this plan and keep stakeholders and the community informed throughout the process. Every action we take must protect the environment and the community.”
The DoD said its team reached the shorter timeline by determining certain activities could be done at the same time.
Kathleen Ho, Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director of Environmental Health said they want it done sooner.
“We are focused on ensuring that defueling takes place as quickly and safely as possible,” said Ho. “There is a continued threat to our aquifer and residents every day that fuel remains in the Red Hill tanks. As we review this submission, it is our full expectation that it will have the requisite amount of detail to ensure defueling work can begin.”
In a statement, U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz said:
“Shutting down Red Hill cannot be delayed. While the updated plan to close the facility sooner is a step in the right direction, DoD must make it a priority to move fast and permanently shut down Red Hill as quickly as possible. We also need the Joint Task Force to become fully operational. That means the Secretary of Defense must act quickly and name its commander, a role that will serve as DoD’s on-the-ground leader responsible for working with state and local officials to safely defuel the tanks.”
It’s been almost a year since the spill contaminated the water of thousands of residents. Diedre Willbanks and her family moved away from Aliamanu Military Reservation after suffering numerous health issues. She has little faith in the Navy at this point.
“They’ve not done anything about it before, and there’s been leaks before. This one just became public,” Willbanks explained. So I think, honestly, they’re just gonna make people happy with words until they can get away with just keeping it there.”
Sen. Glenn Wakai, who represents many of those impacted, said he was skeptical prior to the release of the report.
“I mean, the Navy and the military is tasked with ensuring our peace and our freedom. I have full confidence that they can do that. I have no confidence that they can protect our water,” Wakai said.
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KHON also reached out to the Board of Water Supply for comment and is waiting to hear back.