The U.S. Department of Defense plans to file an appeal against the state’s emergency order on Red Hill in state and federal courts by the Feb. 2 deadline.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks released a statement saying the action would give the DoD time to make “evidence-based and transparent decisions.”
“Despite these legal process requirements, we hope to work with the State of Hawaii in a way that would allow the parties the time and space to work out solutions together,” Dr. Hicks said.
She explained that the DoD is taking action to deal with the November release and contamination, including restoring drinking water. The DoD also initiated a review of the facility’s long-term future, “to include the Red Hill permanent drain option.”
“We will continue to do everything we can to protect people, the environment and the nation’s security. We believe these goals are mutually supportive and can co-exist,” Dr. Hicks said.
The DoD plans to submit to the Hawaii Department of Health a work plan and implementation schedule for a qualified, independent, third-party commercial company to assess the facility operations and system integrity necessary to safely operate and/or refuel Red Hill.
“With respect to the long-term future of Red Hill, we have an aggressive schedule to analyze and determine fuel reserve allocations for our operations in the Pacific theater. Regardless of independent third-party assessment, this analysis by the Department of Defense will be completed within 60 days to allow the Secretary of Defense to make a decision on Red Hill’s role going forward,” Dr Hicks said in a statement.
Hawaiʻi DOH, lawmakers and environmental groups frustrated and disappointed with DoD’s plan to appeal
Hawaii Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho said she was “very disappointed that the Navy continues to fight the emergency order.
“The Navy has made commitments to Congress and in multiple public forums to comply with the emergency order. Today’s announcement that they intend to appeal the emergency order emergency is another breach of trust between the Navy and the people of Hawaii,” Ho said. “We will continue our fight in court to force the Navy to secure Red Hill facilities. The DOH will continue to act protect the residents of Hawai’i and our environment.
The DOH emergency order will remain in effect throughout the appeals process.
Congressman Ed Case (HI-01) said he strongly disagrees with Dr. Hicks and the Department of Defense’s decision to further challenge the state’s emergency order on Red Hill.
“I will do my best to fully enforce the order and, if necessary, confirm that Hawai’i and any other states are legally entitled to protect their drinking water,” Rep. Case said.
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i) said the DoD “made a serious, unforced error that undermines public trust.”
“Fortunately, we have civilian oversight of the military, and this inexplicable and infuriating resistance to the refueling order will not succeed. They will lose in court and they will lose in Congress.
Earthjustice and the Sierra Club of Hawai’i have expressed “deep frustration” over the US Navy’s decision to appeal the state’s emergency order to drain fuel from the storage facility at bulk fuel from Red Hill.
“All of their words about building trust and putting our safety first have gone out the window,” said Sierra Club of Hawaii chapter manager Wayne Tanaka. “This decision is clearly a decision to ignore our demands to fix this mess and keep us in harm’s way for as long as possible. The people of Hawai’i are not stupid and we are not replaceable.
“If the Navy’s contamination of its own water supply system last November taught us anything, it’s that we can’t leave it up to the military to decide what is needed to protect the O’ahu’s irreplaceable drinking water supply,” said David Henkin, the Earthjustice attorney who represented the Sierra Club of Hawaii in the disputed emergency order hearing.
“Thousands of families have already been displaced from their homes for months, unable to drink the water that comes out of their taps, and we are all considering water rationing this summer. We will vigorously defend the emergency order against prevarication by the Navy. The Red Hill reservoirs need to be drained now to avoid an even greater disaster that poisons our entire water supply.
Navy Begins Red Hill Shaft Recovery Operations
The US Navy began a large-scale operation Monday to pump and granular activated carbon filtration of groundwater from the Navy’s Red Hill well.
“This is a critical step in the process of containing and removing contamination in the well as part of Red Hill’s well recovery and monitoring plan,” according to a Navy press release. .
The Interagency Drinking Water System Team (IDWST) finalized the plan last week, which includes actions to pump and filter contaminated groundwater from the Navy’s Red Hill Well to reduce the spread of contamination and protect plants and wildlife.
The Navy says the effort will help the team better understand groundwater movement and contamination.
“Each day, the Navy pumps up to 5 million gallons of groundwater from the Red Hill well. This creates a capture zone in the aquifer to reduce the spread of groundwater contamination. To remove contaminants to the Inside the well, the Navy will use skimming pumps and a range of sorbent booms and pads. The Navy’s objective is to contain contamination near the Red Hill well and prevent further contamination of the aquifer. “, according to the press release.
After the water is pumped from the well, it passes through the GAC filtration system before being discharged into the Hālawa stream. As the water passes through the filtration system, it is monitored for contaminants. If contaminant levels exceed acceptable DOH limits, operations will be shut down.
A copy of the plan is available for public consultation here.