U.S. INDOPACOM announces establishment of Joint Task Force Red Hill
News release from U.S. Indo-Pacific Command
CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii – Adm. John C. Aquilino, Commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, announced the establishment of Joint Task Force Red Hill (JTF Red Hill) on June 30.
The Secretary of Defense directed the standup of JTF Red Hill. Once on-site in Hawaii, the JTF Commander’s sole responsibility will be to ensure the safe and expeditious defueling of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in close coordination with the State of Hawaii.
“This is an operational approach to ensure mission accomplishment,” said Aquilino. “This is so important that the Secretary has decided to take a different approach. And the commitment from the Department is to defuel the tanks per the direction given, as expeditiously as possible without compromising safety anywhere.”
The Department of Defense (DoD) today released its plan to safely defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility by the end of calendar year 2024.
The removal and relocation of the fuel will commence once the DoD has deemed that Red Hill is safe to defuel and regulatory partners provide final approval.
The Honorable Meredith Berger, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, said, "We know that every action we take must be protective of human health, the environment, and national security. For these reasons we have drafted a plan that is transparent, maximizes safety, and acknowledges and minimizes risks.”
The five-phase defueling plan, which may be downloaded here, demonstrates DoD’s commitment to remove more than 100 million gallons of fuel as quickly as possible, in a safe and informed manner, and with full transparency to regulators, intergovernmental partners, and with the people of Hawaii. The plan incorporates industry best practices and will be continuously refined during the planning and implementation process.
DoD will coordinate with the Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Hawaii Department of Health to meet the requirements in the Emergency Order expeditiously and will ensure compliance with environmental safeguards, defueling Red Hill in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations.
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Long list of failures contributed to Red Hill water contamination, Navy investigation finds
SA: … The investigation concluded that about 5,542 gallons of fuel ultimately escaped into the environment after a Nov. 20 pipeline rupture at the facility, a portion of which made its way to the Navy’s Red Hill well and the tap water of residents living in neighborhoods in and around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The report identified missed opportunities for preventing the drinking water contamination that trace back to a May 6, 2021 fuel spill. That fuel, which was sucked up into a fire suppression line that ruptured on Nov. 20, was the ultimate source of the drinking water contamination.
“These deficiencies endured due to seams in accountability and a failure to learn from prior incidents that falls unacceptably short of Navy standards for leadership, ownership and the safeguarding of our communities,” according to the report.
The report found alarming examples of Navy leaders failing to timely communicate information to the public and regulators.
For example, leaders at the scene of the Nov. 20 spill “failed to communicate the seriousness of the incident,” according to the report.
“Every person physically present at Red Hill on the evening of 20 November 2021 knew within a short time after arriving that the spill was all or mostly fuel,” the investigation found. “The fact that the spill was from a non-fuel system was undoubtedly confusing and led to initial reports of a water spill. However, those initial reports were never fully corrected.”
By midnight on Nov. 20, the commanding officer of Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor and the commander and regional engineer for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command knew the spill was primarily fuel and likely from the May 6,2021 spill, according to the report.
The commander of Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, who at the time was Capt. Albert Hornyak, also failed to report that the initial responder to the spill had gone to the hospital that evening due to chemical burns and that a second person had been injured.
The Navy also submitted its plan for defueling the Red Hill facility to the Hawaii Department of Health today, which was required under the state’s emergency order. Under the plan, the 20 underground fuel tanks will be drained by the end of 2024. Navy officials said that supply chain disruptions, as well as extensive pipeline and valve repairs that are needed before safely moving the fuel, prevents near-term defueling….
read … Long list of failures contributed to Red Hill water contamination, Navy investigation finds
PDF: Navy Report
DOH NEWS RELEASE: DOH RELEASES RED HILL DEFUELING PLAN, COMMAND INVESTIGATION
HNN: Navy investigation concludes ‘cascading,’ preventable failures caused water crisis that sickened thousands
CB: Red Hill Investigations: The Navy Failed To Prevent And Respond To Fuel Contamination
SA: Pentagon releases 2-year plan to drain Red Hill fuel tanks