Contact: Marti Townsend, Director
Court Rules Red Hill Tanks Violate State Law
HONOLULU, HAWAIʻI (February 21, 2018) — Today first circuit court Judge Jeffrey Crabtree ruled in favor of the Sierra Club, finding that the state’s exemption of the Navy’s Red Hill fuel tanks violate state law. This means the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill fuel tanks must be brought into compliance with state law. The Red Hill fuel tanks leaked 27,000 gallons of jet fuel in 2014 and have leaked at least 30 times since their construction in 1943.
“This is a big deal. The Navy can no longer skirt our laws. Its time to fix up the Red Hill fuel tanks or shut them down,” said Marti Townsend, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi. “The future of Oʻahu’s drinking water is looking much clearer.”
Sierra Club’s lawsuit is based on a 1992 state law directing the Health Department to enact rules that require the upgrading of existing underground storage tanks by 1999 to prevent releases of petroleum into the environment. The Sierra Club’s motion highlights that:
The legislature mandated that DOH enact rules requiring that existing underground storage tanks be replaced or upgraded not later than December 22, 1998, to prevent releases for their operating life. … All the pre-existing tanks, especially the leaking ones, were required to be upgraded or replaced.
Instead of complying with this mandate, however, the Department of Health exempted the Red Hill tanks from regulation. The Health Department itself admitted that “the storage of up to 187 million gallons of fuel, 100 feet above a drinking water resource, is inherently dangerous.”