Red Hill Depot Halfway Through Repairs, Defueling to be Completed Next Year

April 5, 2023 5:02 PM - Updated: April 5, 2023 8:48 PM
A Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF) contractor trims a support beam during repairs at Halawa, Hawaii, on March 15, 2023. US Navy Photo

This story has been updated to clarify where Red Hill fuel will be stored once removed.

The Department of Defense’s Joint Task Force Red Hill has completed just over 50 percent of the needed repairs on the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, according to a new online public dashboard the group rolled out Tuesday.

The dashboard, a PDF that lays out where the task force is for repairs, third-party validation and repairs submitted to the Hawaii Department of Health, as well as the timeline for the defueling process.

Joint Task Force – Red Hill’s current date to completely defuel the facility is June 2024, giving it about a year and a quarter to finish. Over the next 90 days, the task force will conduct response drills, dewatering, a defueling open house and a public meeting on the National Environmental Policy Act report required by the EPA.

As of April 4, the joint task force finished 129 out of 253 needed repairs, according to the dashboard. On Thursday, the task force will hold a response drill.

On Monday, April 17, the joint task force will begin the dewatering process, which is when water is removed from the fuel tanks to prevent corrosion and check the fuel’s quality, according to the dashboard.

Condensation due to the fuel tanks venting into the atmosphere cause water to sink to the bottom of the tanks, said Cmdr. Nico Melendez, spokesperson for Joint Task Force – Red Hill, in a video on dewatering. That water needs to be separated from the fuel and removed in order to prevent corrosion.

The water is removed by a drain in the tank’s bottom, Melendez said in the video. The process is monitored through a site glass.

The dashboard has dewatering schedule for April 17-21.

The dashboard is one of the tools the joint task force is using in an attempt to communicate with the public. Hawaiian residents and government officials have raised concerns about the lack of transparency over a number of issues at Red Hill.

“The addition of the defueling dashboard to our webpage is an important step in our efforts to keep the public informed about our progress towards safely defueling the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility,” Vice Adm. John Wade, commander of Joint Task Force -Red Hill said in a news release. “We are committed to transparency, and this new graphic allows us to share important information as new updates become available.”

The joint task force, which oversees the defueling process, has already removed approximately 1.16 million gallons of jet and maritime diesel fuel from pipelines. That fuel was kept at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam so it could be used for aircraft and ships, USNI News previously reported.

The fuel removed from the tanks will be kept in storage already part of the Department of Defense’s supply chain, Capt. Kitsana Dounglomchan, a spokesperson for the joint task force, told USNI News in an email.

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.
Follow @hmongilio

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