Mandatory Red Hill Storage Facility Upgrade Bill Stalls in House

Feb 14, 2018

Ernie Lau, Honolulu Board of Water Supply manager and chief engineer testified in support of HB2712.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

A Bill calling for more immediate steps to prevent fuel spills at the Navy’s Red Hill Storage Facility stalled in the House today. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

Honolulu Board of Water Supply manager and chief engineer, Ernie Lau, supports House Bill 2712, which would require the Navy to install secondary containment for the 250 foot tall underground tanks at the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility.  There are 20 tanks.  He says the Navy is taking too long.

“It’s now 5 years since the leak of Tank #5, the 27-thousand gallons was released into the groundwater.”

Captain Richard Hayes, commander of Naval Facilities Hawaii.
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

But, Naval Facilities Hawai’i commander, Captain Richard Hayes, says the Navy is working on alternative solutions as directed by the 2015 Administrative Order and Consent, the AOC.

“The drinking water remains safe. The Red Hill tanks are not leaking.  All operating tanks continue to pass leak detection criteria.”

The State Department of Health also weighed in.  Deputy Director, Keith Kawaoka, says the AOC is directing a comprehensive look at tank upgrades.

“We have 6 options right now; 3 are double-walled; 2 are not.  And right now the Navy is providing us information to base their recommendations to us and EPA about what option to take.  We’re not there yet.  We’re still going through that evaluation.  That’s what the AOC process is doing.”

Deputy Attorney General, Wade Hargrove, says Red Hill is a one of a kind facility and the AOC provides 20 years for the Navy to complete the tank upgrades.

Department of Health representatives, Noa Klein, deputy attorney general Wade Hargrove and deputy director Keith Kawaoka
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

“We’re 5 years, not into our time.  We’re 5 years into the Navy’s time.  Their failure to compete the upgrades only means they get that fewer tanks.  Whatever tanks they don’t get, they don’t get.  In other words it’s not that if they don’t finish upgrading the tanks in 20 years, they get however more years they need.”

House Health and Human Services Committee chair, John Mizuno, deferred the bill, preventing its advancement.

“Members, House Bill 2712, recommendation be to defer as we’re gonna wait for the Senate companion bill to reach the House.”

That Senate Companion Bill, 2930, is headed to the Committee on Consumer Protection and Health.  Wayne Yoshioka, HPR News.