Navy suspends use of Red Hill fuel tanks as it continues to struggle with water system contamination

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations held a joint news conference at the U.S. Pacific Fleet Headquarters on Monday, Dec. 6, following their visit with local officials and residents impacted by the Red Hill water crisis.

“I understand how disruptive this has been to your daily lives, and I am committed to finding and fixing the root cause of this issue,” said Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro.

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Gov. David Ige and congressional delegation have called on the Navy to immediately stop its operations at World War II era fuel tank farm that sits above an aquifer that supplies nearly 20% of Honolulu’s drinking water.

During Monday’s news conference, the Navy announced that it has answered to the call of suspending the use of the fuel tanks, however, officials did not commit to it being a permanent solution.

Rear Admiral Blake Converse, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that the use of the tank farm was suspended on Nov. 27, but officials did not say why the Navy waited until Monday to make that announcement.

Last week, the Navy confirmed that it detected petroleum products in water samples taken from the Red Hill drinking water well, which is near the underground fuel tank complex that has been the source of multiple fuel leaks over the years.

Hundreds of military families living near Pearl Harbor have complained of stomach pain, nausea and other health issues. There are even reports of pets being affected after drinking from the Navy’s water system, which serves about 93,000 people.

The fuel in the tanks is used by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Hawaii National Guard for ships and aircraft. The Navy has said Red Hill is vital to maritime security, regional stability, humanitarian assistance and continued prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

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According to the Navy, the Department of Defense has spent more than $200 million on updating the facility and conducting environmental testing since 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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