Hawaii lawmakers ask for $4 million bill to study Red Hill effects
by Kim Jarrett, The Center Square, July 24, 2023
Hawaii's legislative delegation is asking for $4 million to study the effects of the fuel leakage at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
Thousands were sickened, and some were forced from their homes in November 2021 when fuel leaked from the facility into the water system. A separate incident happened a year later when more than 1,100 gallons of aqueous film-forming foam were released in a separate incident a year later.
U.S. Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie K. Hirono, and Hawaii U.S. Reps. Ed Case and Jill Tokuda filed a bill creating the 20-year Red Hill Epidemiological Health Outcomes Study overseen by the U.S. Department of Health of Human Services. Congress would allocate no less than $4 million for the study, according to the bill. Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, is co-sponsoring the bill.
The legislation also creates a registry of impacted individuals.
“People who were exposed to toxic fuel from this leak should know what kind of impact that might have on their long-term health and what kind of additional federal help they can get,” Schatz said. “This study will give doctors, public health experts, and those affected by the leak a better understanding of what that kind of exposure can do to someone’s health.”
The Hawaii Department of Health ordered the closure of the fuel storage facility and the Pentagon agreed last year.
Last month the DOH gave the U.S. Navy permission to begin defueling tanks next to the storage facility. Congress allotted $1.1 billion last year to help with closing costs.
“Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act included a directive I sought to have the Department of Defense track the long-term health implications of fuel leaks from Red Hill in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawaii State Department of Health," Case said. "This measure further expands our efforts to ensure that these health concerns will continue to be monitored and addressed beyond the immediate crisis so that we can fully understand and remedy any and all impacts.”
Defueling of the entire facility is expected to begin in October and should take months to complete, according to previous reports.