Protect Oʻahu’s primary water source
Video by Caitlin Rodgers, Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi Intern, 2017
In January 2014, the U.S. Navy reported that 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a tank at its Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Since the facility was built, more than 170,000 gallons of fuel has leaked. This facility holds twenty fuel storage tanks and is located a mere 100 feet above Oʻahu’s primary aquifer that serves over 600,000 residents from Hālawa to Hawaiʻi Kai.
Previous studies have shown this is not the first leak from this facility—since its construction in the 1940s, this facility has leaked as much as 200,000 gallons of fuel into the environment—and the groundwater beneath the tanks may already be contaminated with fuel. We are concerned these tanks will continue to leak, posing a serious threat to the future of Oʻahu’s drinking water.
Despite these leaks and impending threats, the U.S. Navy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have released no plans for cleaning up the leaked fuel and offered no assurance that future leaks will not occur. The EPA’s current plan only calls for the monitoring and renovating of these outdated tanks. Learn more with this brief slideshow (includes citations).
We are calling on the Hawaiʻi Department of Health, EPA, and U.S. Navy to:
- Install sufficient “sentinel” monitoring wells to guard public drinking water sources from possible contamination currently in the aquifer,
- Locate the fuel that has already leaked from the storage facility and clean it up,
- Install genuine leak prevention systems, not only leak detection systems, that will guarantee there will be no future leaks from this facility.
If these expectations cannot be met, then the obsolete fuel storage tanks at Red Hill should be retired, and the stored fuel relocated to modern, more reliable facilities that comply with today’s strict environmental standards.
DETRIMENTAL IMPACTS – Why does this matter?
- The U.S. Navy and Environmental Protection Agency have released no plan for locating and cleaning up the fuel that has already leaked from the facility and offered no assurance that future leaks will not occur.
- The January 2014 leak was not the first and we fear it may not be the last. Since the most recent leak, Navy studies have detected petroleum chemicals in the groundwater underneath the tanks.
- O‘ahu’s drinking water supply is being put at risk. There is a clear lack of urgency from the responsible agencies to prevent future leaks and clean up the current contamination.
- While Oʻahu’s drinking water is currently safe, these tanks put it at serious risk.
Join the fight to protect our water – sign our petition today
10.6.2016: U.S. Navy hosts annual public meeting updates on Red Hill storage leaks
8.15.2016: Sierra Club hosts public meeting updates on Red Hill storage leaks
- Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi Red Hill Water Security Fact Sheet
- EPA and DOH Letter of Disapproval of US Navy Red Hill Scope of Work
- KITV: EPA, state reject Navy’s plan to deal with Red Hill fuel spills
- US Navy Historical Data of Tank Releases
- US Navy Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility Groundwater Protection Plan
- The Hawaiʻi Independent: Red Hill has “high potential for catastrophic environmental loss”
- Associated Press: Huge Navy fuel tanks worry Hawaiʻi farmers, utility officials
- Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi: Keep Our Water Clean
- Civil Beat: Navy’s Insistence on Red Hill Fuel Tank Secrecy Raises Alarms
- Flint-ing with Disaster: ThinkTech
- Honolulu Board of Water Supply: Red Hill Community Page
- Environmental Protection Agency: Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility
- Environmental Protection Agency: Underground Storage Tank Systems
Not the only leaking facility…
There are other communities across the country being impacted by the negligence of the military and other fuel transportation parties. Here is one example:
Albuquerque, New Mexico: As much as 24 million gallons of jet fuel has leaked into the environment surrounding Kirtland Air Force Base since as early as the 1950s. Not only is this spill the largest toxic contamination of an aquifer in the country’s history, the spilled fuel dates back to before the incredibly toxic ethylene dibromide (EDB) was banned by the Environmental Protection Agency. EDB is an extremely harmful carcinogen that was used as an additive to leaded gasoline and an agricultural fumigant in the 50s and 60s. It is incredibly soluble and stable and persists in soils and underground water – it’s hard to find and even harder (and more expensive) to get out. Yet, decades later, the Air Force is less than concerned. They still have not determined exactly how much fuel has been released or studied the properties of the aquifer to understand how the water moves underground and have made no effort to clean up any contaminants in the aquifer. Click here to read more or watch this video.