FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Marti Townsend, Chapter Director, Sierra Club of Hawai‘i
HONOLULU, HAWAI‘I (Friday, March 8 2019) – Today in an unanimous vote, the Honolulu City Council passed Resolution 18-266 CD1, urging the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject the approval of any single wall tank upgrades and support the relocation of the Red Hill tanks in the case that secondary containment is not feasible. Over 75 testimony were submitted in support of the resolution. The Honolulu City Council is the first legislative body to publicly support the retirement of the World War II era tanks.
“We are grateful to the Honolulu City Council for taking a stand for the safety of Oʻahu’s drinking water,” said Marti Townsend, Chapter Director of the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi. “This resolution sends a strong message to state and federal decision-makers that the people of Oʻahu want guaranteed protection of their water, not the promise of status quo—which has led to numerous fuel leaks in the past.”
Resolution 18-266 was introduced by Councilmember Carol Fukunaga who represents Makiki to Hālawa—a large portion of the residents that rely on the threatened aquifer for drinking water. The resolution was first heard in the Committee on Public Infrastructure, Technology, and Sustainability, where the committee amended the language to include secondary containment and relocation based on testimony from the Honolulu Board of Water Supply and numerous concerned residents.
Also included in the resolution is the rejection of the U.S. Navy’s Groundwater Protection
and Evaluation Report which concludes that a release as large as 700,000 gallons would not impact the quality of the water at any drinking water pumping stations used by the Navy and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply.
“No amount of fuel in O‘ahu’s drinking water is acceptable. These tanks should have never been built above our aquifer and 75 years later they are too fragile to remain there. There are several good options for the relocation of the tanks on military property that does not threaten the health of Oʻahu’s people and environment,” says Townsend.
Representatives from the U.S. Navy believe that secondary containment is not feasible within the current tank structure at Red Hill and such upgrades would be cost prohibitive and reduce the fuel storage capacity.
The U.S. Navy recently released its corrosion testing data on the Red Hill tanks to verify their assumptions about how the tanks at Red Hill have aged over time. Their data shows that the tanks are corroding faster than they expected, with some samples less than half of the original 0.25 inch thickness.
The Red Hill facility has leaked over thirty times since its construction in the 1940’s with the latest leak in 2014, leaking over 27,000 gallons of fuel.
About the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi: Formed in 1968, the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi has over 20,000 members and supporters working throughout the islands to stop climate change, ensure climate justice for all, and protect Hawaiʻi’s unique natural resources. The Sierra Club is the largest, oldest environmental organization in the U.S. We rely on volunteers to support outdoor education programs, trail and native species restoration projects, and grassroots advocacy for sound environmental policies.