Senate bill looks to protect Honolulu’s primary aquifer from Navy fuel spills

Local News

Protecting Honolulu’s water from a potential Navy fuel spill. That’s what a new Hawaii state senate bill looks to tackle.

Senate Bill 2774 would relocate the Red Hill Underground Storage Facility away from the Moanalua-Waimalu aquifer, which sits just 100 feet below.

In 2014, the Navy reported that 27,000 gallons of fuel leaked from the facility’s corroded steel tanks, which were built nearly 80 years ago.

Their opposition to relocation by 2028 includes a plan for protecting the aquifer, which provides roughly 400,000 Honolulu residents from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai with water.

“Our commitment to ensuring that the water remains safe and making investments to that facility to protect the aquifer protect the environment,” said NAVFAC Commanding Officer Marc Delao.

Among other protections, their plan includes repair maintenance and recoating of the tanks.

“Using the latest technology for cleaning inspecting and repairing our tanks, which we continue to do. Also just buying down some of the risks with some of the components of the tanks.” Captain Delao added.

Proponents of relocation say the current risk of tanks leaking could be catastrophic.

“There was a 2018 test corrosion analysis. Every single sample taken showed some sign of corrosion on the tanks,” said Sierra Club policy advocate Jodi Malinoski.

“There was also a 2019 risk and vulnerability assessment that came out that showed there’s a 27.6 percent chance that the tanks will leak up to 30,000 gallons a year.”

The Navy contends that the drinking water is safe. They are adamant that the facility is very important to maintaining national security, but 12 alternative sites on Oahu have been researched.

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