EPA Approves Joint Task Force-Red Hill Pre-Defueling Preparedness Report
Decision paves way for safe defueling operations to begin
News Release from US EPA, October 3, 2023
HONOLULU – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the Joint Task Force-Red Hill (JTF-RH) Defueling Preparedness Report outlining how safe defueling will proceed at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. JTF-RH must begin defueling operations within 15 calendar days once the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) approves moving forward with the defueling process.
"EPA’s approval of the joint task force report is a significant milestone in the process to safely defuel Red Hill,” said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman. "This decision reflects our collaborative efforts with Hawai‘i Department of Health to work with the Department of Defense on ensuring the closure of the facility and protection of the area’s drinking water. This work is critical to safeguarding public health and the environment on Oahu.”
Under the June 2023 Consent Order on Red Hill, the EPA required JTF-RH to submit the Defueling Preparedness Report prior to the start of defueling. The report certifies that:
- All repairs, operational changes, and training have been completed as prescribed under the DOD’s defuel plan.
- All repairs have gone through proper third-party quality assurance verification.
- Navy Region Hawai‘i has updated their Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasure Plan to EPA’s satisfaction.
- EPA has approved JTF-RH’s updated Facility Response Plan.
- Tank tightness testing of sumps within the lower access tunnel has been completed.
During defueling, EPA will be onsite and on-call for the duration of the operation to provide technical assistance and monitor for any anomalies in the defueling process.
In addition, the EPA will participate in a JTF-RH Defueling Open House to be held today from 4-6 p.m. HT at the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Memorial Hall located in Keʻehi Lagoon Memorial Park, 2685 North Nimitz Highway, in Honolulu. The open house allows JTF-RH and relevant state and federal agencies to engage with community leaders and members of the public and provide updates on the defueling status. In addition, on Wednesday, October 4, the EPA will take part in the first convening of the Community Representation Initiative focused on plans for defueling.
Following the November 2021 contamination of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam’s drinking water system, the Hawai‘i Department of Health issued an emergency order to the Navy that required the Navy to cease all operations at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and defuel and close the 20 underground storage tanks, surge tanks, and associated piping.
The Secretary of Defense ordered the closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and, subsequently, the United States Indo-Pacific Command established JTF-RH to carry out that order.
DOH then issued a superseding order on May 6, 2022. In June 2023, the EPA finalized an Administrative Consent Order with the Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency that requires the safe defueling and closure of the Red Hill facility. The actions required by the consent order support DOH’s emergency order and require the Navy and DLA to minimize risks from the movement of fuel throughout the Red Hill facility during defueling and closure.
Read the EPA Letter of Approval of RHBFSF Defueling Preparedness Report.
Read the Final 2023 Consent Order and Statement of Work on EPA's website.
Read about EPA’s work at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawai‘i.
SA: EPA approves Navy’s Red Hill defueling plan | Honolulu Star-Advertiser (staradvertiser.com)