HONOLULU (KHON2) — On this Earth Day, the United States Government has dropped its appeals against the State of Hawaii’s order to defuel Read Hill.

Nearly five months ago the Department of Health ordered the Navy to come up with a plan to safely empty the storage tanks. This came after a water contamination crisis in November, 2021 that affected many in the community.

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The feds went to federal and state courts in an attempt to block the order and stated at the time they intended to comply but challenged the DOH’s authority to have it enforced.

“This is a big win for O‘ahu’s residents, who should be able to turn on the taps in their homes
without fear that the water they serve their families is toxic,” said Earthjustice
Attorney David Henkin.

“The United States is dismissing the federal and state court litigation that challenged the Hawaii Department of Health’s Emergency Order issued in December 2021 and finalized in January for the Navy’s Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu, Hawaii. This litigation is no longer necessary, given the Secretary of Defense’s decision last month, March 7, to defuel and permanently close Red Hill, and DOH’s representation, in the Hawaii Circuit Court on April 14, that it is preparing an emergency order that will supersede the December emergency order that is the subject of this litigation.  The Department of the Navy looks forward to continuing to work with DOH to defuel Red Hill expeditiously and in a manner that is protective of human health, safety, and the environment.”

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby

“As long as the Navy was not acknowledging the legal authority of DOH to call the shots, they reserved the right to change its mind anytime it wanted, to leave fuel in the Red Hill tanks, to take a year instead of 30 days to get the fuel out. So these things are not mere details. They are where the rubber hits the road as far as protecting our water supply. We do welcome that on this Earth Day. The Navy has decided to give up its fight.”

David Henkin, Earthjustice Attorney

“This is the right thing to do, and I worked very hard to push the Department of Defense to make this decision. The legal challenge to the order made it difficult for the state to work cooperatively with the DoD, and dropping the lawsuit paves the way for us to shut down Red Hill this year,”  said. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz.