EPA plans January meeting on Hawaii's Red Hill

The public will get their say next month on a proposed consent order between the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S Navy that would shutter the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility.

The U.S. Navy is shuttering the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility after 20,000 gallons of fuel spilled in November 2021. The leaked fuel sickened residents and forced some to move out of their residences.

Another spill was reported in April that involved 30 gallons of a fuel and water mixture, according to the EPA's proposed consent.

The Navy is complying with an order from the Hawaii Department of Health to shut down the storage facility. The proposed completion date is summer of 2024.

The EPA consent order will require the Navy to maintain the water system at the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and defuel the storage tanks. The system serves about 65,000 people according to the proposed order.

"Such efforts are essential to safeguarding the health and the environment of communities around Oahu," said EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman in a statement.

The public meeting will be held sometime during the week of Jan. 16 but the location and time have not been decided, according to the EPA. The public can comment online through Feb. 6.

Investigations are underway into the leaks from the fuel storage facility. This week Hawaii's congressional delegation asked the Government Accountability Office this week to conduct an investigation.

"While the Department of Defense and the Department of Navy should continue to conduct their own reviews on their responses to ongoing and previous PFAS/PFOA and AFFF exposure events, a GAO investigation will provide a necessary third-party assessment of their practices," the delegation said in a letter to GAO Comptroller General Gene Dodaro. "We urge you to use the resources and tools available to you to conduct a rigorous and data-driven investigation to provide transparency on these response efforts and provide recommendations on required improvements that will protect impacted communities."

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 includes $1 billion for cleaning up the Red Hill site.

“This is new federal funding to drain and permanently shut down Red Hill," Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a statement this week. "We still have more work to do to make sure Red Hill is closed as quickly and safely as possible, and now we have even more resources to help in that effort."

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