Joint Task Force – Red Hill is set to start draining fuel from surge tanks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
The task force will drain 480,000 gallons of fuel from four surge tanks, starting July 17, according to a news release from Joint Task Force – Red Hill. It can drain the tanks now after receiving conditional approval from both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Hawaii Department of Health.
The fuel will be stored in above-ground tanks at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham, according to the release. Defueling the surge tanks will take about two weeks.
The surge tanks do not serve a purpose for the defueling of the main Red Hill tanks, Brig. Gen. Michelle Link, deputy commander of the joint task force, said in the release. The tanks are meant to be service tanks not storage, according to a video released by the joint task force in May.
The surge tanks previously were used to transfer fuel to or between the storage tanks when Red Hill was operational. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the closure of Red Hill in March 2022 after a November 2021 leak caused fuel to seep into Hawaii’s drinking water.
The surge tanks are on the Pearl Harbor side of the joint base, according to the video.
Defueling the surge tanks is the latest in a series of steps taken by the Joint Task Force – Red Hill, along with the Navy and Department of Defense, to shutter the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
Most recently, the Joint Task Force completed all repairs required before defueling of the storage tanks can begin. A number of these repairs are awaiting third-party validation and approval by the Hawaii Department of Health.
Joint Task Force – Red Hill is running training and drills in July, in preparation for defueling the main storage tanks, which is slated to begin in October. Defeuling is slated to end by January 2024, according to the Department of Defense’s plan.