EPA, Navy Enter New Contract Over Red Hill Closure

January 3, 2023 5:11 PM
Joint Task Force-Red Hill (JTF-RH) and Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF) leaders listen to a subject matter expert during a tour of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF) in Halawa, Hawaii, Sept. 20, 2022. US Army Photo

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Navy entered a new administrative consent order on Dec. 20 as the sea service, led by the Joint Task Force – Red Hill, looks to defuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility over the next few years.

The administrative consent order lays out an overview of the Navy’s actions to defuel and close Red Hill, as well as the sea service’s plan to protect drinking water in the area around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, according to the document, available on the EPA’s website.

The consent order does not lay out any new details from the Navy’s proposed plan for defueling Red Hill. Instead, it lays out items, such as inspections and reports, that the Navy will need to deliver.

The Joint Task Force – Red Hill is currently completing repairs to the fuel storage facility that are required before complete defueling can commence. The Joint Task Force successfully removed fuel out of three pipelines in 2022. Once repairs are finished, the Joint Task Force can move forward in the defueling plan.

The task force identified 253 repairs that need to be done, according to a Dec. 27 update. So far, 94 are finished, with 130 expected to get awarded to a contractor by Jan. 15.

But before the task force can begin removing the bulk amount of fuel, the Hawaii Department of Health must approve defueling plan. The department has not yet signed off on the proposal.

The Navy is currently investigating and remedying an aqueous film forming foam leak from November. Aqueous film forming foam is a fire suppressant that can contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances and Perfluorooctanoic acid, which are considered “forever chemicals” due to their ability to last in substances, like soil, for years. PFAS and PFOA have been linked to multiple health concerns.

As of the Dec. 27 update, the Navy completed soil testing on Dec. 15. Groundwater sampling at nine monitoring wells and the Red Hill Shaft is conducted weekly. The Navy finished excavating an underground culvert near Red Hill’s Adit 6, a passageway leading to one of the facility’s tunnels. The Navy removed AFFF contamination from the asphalt, concrete and soil, according to the update.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Maj. Gen. Richard Heitkamp is investigating the AFFF spill.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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