Red Hill funds included in annual defense bill
by Kim Jarrett, The Center Square, Dec 9, 2022
(The Center Square) - The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 includes $1 billion for cleaning up the site of a fuel leak into Hawaii's water supply.
The U.S. Navy is shuttering the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility after 20,000 gallons of fuel spilled in November 2021. The leaked fuel sickened residents and forced some to move out of their residences.
The Navy has filed a plan with the Hawaii Department of Health that indicates the facility would be defueled by July 2024.
The NDAA also includes $1 billion for the Red Hill Recover Fund, according to U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii.
"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, my priority in NDAA—first and foremost—has been to safely close Red Hill,' Hirono said in a news release. "I'm proud that I successfully secured $1 billion in this year's NDAA for that purpose."
The NDAA also requires the U.S. Navy to establish a single point of contact and issue quarterly public reports on the closure of the fuel facility. The bill would also require a study to determine a "feasible alternative" use for the fuel storage facility. A water monitoring program is also required under the provisions of the bill.
The Senate is considering the bill that passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 350-80.
The 2021 spill is not the last of Red Hill's problems. A separate spill of Aqueous Film Forming Foam was discovered last month but does not appear to have affected surface water, according to the Hawaii Department of Health, which is still investigating.
Maj. Gen. Richard Heitkamp with the U.S. Army Reserve is overseeing the cleanup of the spill, which involved about 1,100 gallons of the substance, according to a news release from the Joint Task Force overseeing the Red Hill cleanup. The investigation will be completed in 30 days, according to the JTF.
Groundwater samples near the site of the latest spill are monitored weekly, according to the DOH.