Hawaii Department of Health rejects Red Hill defueling plan

The Hawaii Department of Health said a plan to defuel the Red Hill Storage Facility is missing information and will not be approved.

The U.S. Navy filed its plan with the DOH last month in response to a fuel spill that sickened thousands of residents. About 20,000 gallons of fuel that had been transferred into overhead pipes in May spilled in November due to human error, Rear Admiral Christopher Kavanaugh told a joint meeting of Hawaiian legislators.

The Department of Defense announced earlier this year it would shut down the Red Hill facility. The Navy's plan indicates it would likely be December 2024 before that is complete.

Dr. Elizabeth Char, DOH director, said the plan was missing information.

"We need specific dates and a timeline and that needs to include time for the Department of Health to review any plans that submitted," Char said. "We would ask that we be included prior to the plan being completed and handed to us."

DOH also needs clarification on repairs and plans to defuel along with a complete spill response plan, Char said.

The U.S. House of Representatives included $1 billion for the closure of Red Hill in the $839.3 billion fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act. The Navy would be required to issue a status report and conduct a hydrology study to address the water needs around Oahu, according to U.S. Rep. Ed Case. A study on the long-term health implications for residents affected by the fuel leak is also part of the bill. The DOD also requested $1 billion for fiscal year 2022 to help cover the closing costs.

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