HONOLULU (KHON2) — In a statement released by the Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks she said she discussed with Gov. David Ige that there is a plan to file an appeal of the Hawaii Department of Health’s final order in both federal and state court by the Feb. 2 deadline.

This will give the Navy more time to make an evidence-based and transparent decision.

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Families and businesses in the area have been impacted by contaminated water issues since Nov. 2021.

The Navy confirmed petroleum was detected in the Navy’s water tests.

The statement says the Navy continues to follow the order including stopping operations at the Red Hill fuel tank.

Today, I spoke with Governor David Ige and his team regarding Red Hill. As I discussed with the Governor, the Secretary and I—along with our team at the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy—remain laser-focused on addressing the Red Hill situation. Our efforts are consistent with the Biden Administration’s dedication to caring for the health and safety of the people of Hawaii and protecting the environment. We continue to take actions to address the November release and contamination, including the restoration of safe drinking water. And we have launched a thorough review of the facility’s long-term future. We will continue to do everything that we can to protect the population, the environment, and the security of the nation. We are confident these goals are mutually supportive and can coexist.  

We discussed how we can work together through some pending legal matters. First, it’s important to note that we continue to take actions consistent with the near-term provisions of the Department of Health’s (DOH) Emergency Order. This includes, but is not limited to, suspending operations of fuel transfers at Red Hill, implementing a thorough series of best-in-class testing and sampling protocols, and installing new equipment to treat and protect Oahu’s water resources. And, as required by the Emergency Order, by this Wednesday, February 2, 2022, we will submit to the Hawaii Department of Health a work plan and implementation schedule for a qualified, independent third party commercial firm to assess the facility operations and system integrity necessary to safely operate and/or defuel Red Hill. The period of work for this assessment will end on April 30, 2022. We understand the importance of transparency as we continue these near-term efforts.   

As to the long-term future of Red Hill, we are on an aggressive schedule to analyze and determine the distribution of fuel reserves for our operations in the Pacific theater. Separate from the independent third party assessment, this analysis by the Department of Defense will be completed within sixty days to enable the Secretary of Defense to make a decision on the role of Red Hill moving forward.  

However, as we discussed with the Governor, we have a deadline of this Wednesday, February 2, 2022, to file an appeal of DOH’s Final Order, and we are planning to file in both federal and state court by this deadline. This will afford us time to make evidence-based and transparent decisions. Despite these legal process requirements, we hope to collaborate with the State of Hawaii in a way that would allow the parties the time and space needed to reach solutions together. We proposed options for how this might work in an effort to find a mutually agreeable path forward, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Governor, the Attorney General and the Hawaii Department of Health.

We know the importance of getting this right for the people of Hawaii, our Service Members, and our military families. We are taking this seriously, and the Secretary has prioritized resources from across the Department to effectively and efficiently take the steps required to address this problem.

We are grateful for the Governor and his team’s time and the thoughtful discussion today. We will work closely with our partners and outside agencies to ensure we have the best information to make responsible choices that protect the health and safety of the people of Hawaii and the nation’s security.

Dr. Kathleen Hicks
Deputy Secretary of Defense

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The Department of Health responded.

We are very disappointed that the Navy continues to fight DOH’s emergency order to defuel the Red Hill tanks. The Navy committed to Congress and in multiple public forums that it would comply with the emergency order. Today’s announcement that they intend to appeal the emergency order is yet another breach of trust between the Navy and the people of Hawai’i.

We will continue our fight in court to force the Navy to render the Red Hill facility safe. DOH will continue to act to protect Hawai’i residents and our environment.”

Kathleen Ho
Deputy Director of Environmental Health

Concerns were raised during a joint legislative briefing about the island’s water supply on Monday, Jan. 31.

The Navy provided an update to lawmakers about their ongoing water contamination crisis.

They say they’re about 80% complete with in-home flushing and testing, and have about 2,000 homes to go.

The Board of Water Supply says if the navy’s plan is unsuccessful that could result in significant water shortages this summer.

“What we’ll see during those peak demand periods we may see periods of low pressure for some of our customers,” said Ernie Lau, Board of Water Supply. “There could be periods of time when some of our customers may experience complete water outage until we can get the demand back down to match the supply.”

Lau said the Halawa shaft accounts for about 20% of the water supply for urban Honolulu.

The Aiea Halawa wells represent about 50% of the capacity for that area.