HONOLULU (KHON2) — According to the Joint Task Force Red Hill, over 100 million gallons of fuel remain in the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility tanks. Rear Adm. John Wade, now head of the task force, hopes to start removing fuel from the pipelines in the next few weeks.
“There’s one million gallons of fuel in the pipes, so again, to reduce risks we’ve got to get that fuel out,” said Wade.
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The Department of the Navy’s closing plan is expected to be submitted sometime next month. Meanwhile, the Department of Defense has moved its defueling timeline by six months to July 2024. Wade said that could change.
“We will work together to look for efficiencies or alternate approaches based on new information that we have,” he said. “As conditions change ,we can try to move that timeline left.”
The Commander’s oversight group is working to ensure the fuel is removed safely. That includes training for various scenarios.
“I observed the most recent spill drill that was conducted in coordination with the EPA and DOH,” said Wade.
The Ford Island Conference Center is now the Joint Task Force Red Hill headquarters where 90 personnel are already on the ground. When it’s fully staffed, there will be about 120 personnel working. The task force is made up of experts in planning, operations, quality assurance and response.
Another addition to the task force may include an advisory board made up of community members. Impacted families are onboard with the idea.
“It’s something that we have all called for from the beginning and not just a seat at the table, but to be heard and from all demographics,” said Jamie Simic, whose military family is impacted by the contaminated water crisis. “This is not just a military issue. There’s civilians living on the military base as well.”
Advocates say this is a first step, but the push to defuel the Red Hill tanks isn’t over.
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“It’s only because of the voices that have been heard and been voiced that have been loud that they’ve actually done the right thing here,” said Healani Sonoda-Pale of Oahu Water Protectors.