EPA schedules January meeting on Hawaii's Red Hill
by Kim Jarrett, The Center Square, December 23, 2022
(The Center Square) - The public will get their say next month on a proposed consent order between the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Navy that would shutter the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility.
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.
Another spill was reported in April that involved 30 gallons of a fuel and water mixture, according to the EPA's proposed consent.
The Navy is complying with an order from the Hawaii Department of Health to shut down the storage facility. The proposed completion date is summer of 2024.
The EPA consent order will require the Navy to maintain the water system at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and defuel the storage tanks. The system serves about 65,000 people according to the proposed order.
"Such efforts are essential to safeguarding the health and the environment of communities around Oahu," said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman in a statement.
The public meeting will be held Jan. 16 but the location and time have not been decided, according to the EPA. The public can comment online through Feb. 6.
Investigations are underway into the leaks from the fuel storage facility. This week Hawaii's congressional delegation asked the Government Accountability Office this week to conduct an investigation.
"While the Department of Defense and the Department of Navy should continue to conduct their own reviews on their responses to ongoing and previous PFAS/PFOA and AFFF exposure events, a GAO investigation will provide a necessary third-party assessment of their practices," the delegation said in a letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. "We urge you to use the resources and tools available to you to conduct a rigorous and data-driven investigation to provide transparency on these response efforts and provide recommendations on required improvements that will protect impacted communities."
The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 includes $1 billion for cleaning up the Red Hill site.
“This is new federal funding to drain and permanently shut down Red Hill," Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a statement this week. "We still have more work to do to make sure Red Hill is closed as quickly and safely as possible, and now we have even more resources to help in that effort."
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Department of Navy Delivers Third-Party Analysis of Alternatives for Closure of Red Hill Tanks, Formally Requests Permanent ‘Closure in Place’
News Release from Commander Navy Region Hawaii, 12.22.2022
The Department of the Navy (DON) today submitted to the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) a comprehensive analysis of alternatives for closure of the Red Hill underground storage tanks. Based on that analysis, the DON is formally requesting DOH approve its request for permanent “Closure in Place” as the best path forward to close the Red Hill tanks. Jacobs Government Service Company produced the report under contract to the DON in response to the DOH’s direction during the July 14, 2022, Meet and Confer session between DOH and Navy. Additionally, the DON will request approval to pursue beneficial non-fuel reuse of the facility.
“The detailed analysis shows that closure in place of the Red Hill facility minimizes impacts to the environment, public health, and safety, which continue to be our highest priority,” said Meredith Berger, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Energy, Installations and Environment).
Following DOH approval, the DON will commence permanent tank closure as early as possible once the Joint Task Force Red Hill completes defueling Red Hill, which is currently targeted for June 2024. The detailed analysis estimates closure in place to take three years, projecting that the closure will be complete in June 2027.
If the DOH approves beneficial non-fuel reuse for the facility as well, the DON will actively engage the Oahu community to solicit input on options and coordinate with DOH prior to finalizing the design and process for permanent “Closure in Place” for Red Hill. The DON will submit a non-fuel reuse evaluation to DOH as a supplement to the Red Hill Tank Closure Plan. The non-fuel reuse evaluation will be completed in a timely manner and will not affect the overall schedule for tank closure. A final determination on the reuse of the facility is not required in order to close the facility.
“This important step underscores our commitment to safely close the Red Hill facility and we look forward to hearing the Hawaii Department of Health’s feedback,” said Rear Adm. Steve Barnett, commander, Navy Region Hawaii. “We are hopeful for an expeditious approval of the proposal so that we can continue on our path to close Red Hill.”
To find more information and download the full Red Hill Tank Closure Plan and Alternatives Analysis, visit https://cnrh.cnic.navy.mil/Operations-and-Management/Red-Hill/.
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