HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Navy plans to fight the state’s emergency order to stop operations at the Red Hill fuel storage facility. That’s according to the state health department, which says a hearing will be scheduled as both sides try to reach an agreement.
The state has ordered the Navy to stop operations at its Red Hill bunker and to come up with a plan to drain the massive fuel tanks that sit above the aquifer. With the Red Hill well showing contamination of petroleum, the Board of Water Supply says we can’t afford the risk of contaminating the Halawa Shaft which is less than a mile away.
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“Every hour that fuel continues to be stored there over the drinking water aquifer, that’s a risk. So the sooner you can get it out, that will reduce that large risk to our resource,” said Ernie Lau, chief engineer at the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.
Lau points out that he has met with military experts on moving at least some of the fuel from the older tanks, which could significantly reduce the risk.
“When you think about it they ship the fuel to those tanks, and they pump it up the hill into those tanks,” he said. “They can simply bring in ships to take that fuel and transfer it someplace else.”
There’s growing concern that the Halawa Shaft, which provides water to 450,000 residents from Halawa Valley to Hawaii Kai, can be contaminated. The Board of Water Supply has turned off the Halawa Shaft as a precaution. The Navy secretary met with the governor on Monday just a few hours before the state issued the emergency order.
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“The Secretary of the Navy did express his commitment to assuring that we get the best minds together, evaluate the entire system, and identify the key actions necessary to protect our water supply,” said Gov. David Ige.