Navy halts use of fuel storage complex above Hawaii aquifer

Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro traveled to Pearl Harbor and instructed reporters he was apologizing to everybody affected by what he referred to as a “horrible, horrible tragedy.”

Nearly 1,000 navy households have complained about their faucet water and a few have stated they’ve suffered bodily illnesses akin to cramps and vomiting lately after consuming it.

A water pattern returned final week confirmed the presence of petroleum in water that comes from a properly close to the underground fuel tank complex that has been the supply of a number of fuel leaks over time.

Del Toro stated officers had been getting near figuring out the trigger of the issue and that when the investigation is accomplished and reviewed, the Navy will undertake water security precautions.

“This will allow us to implement new safety actions before resuming operations,” Del Toro stated.

When requested if the Navy is contemplating completely shutting down the fuel tank farm, Del Toro stated all prospects are being explored.

“We’re looking at some very serious option here in the very near future,” he stated.

Fuel from the tanks is used to energy many U.S. navy ships and planes that patrol the Pacific Ocean, however Del Toro stated the cutoff’s impression on navy operations would “have a really minimal impact, if any, in any respect proper now.”

“I don’t want to get into topics with conversations with regards to how long we can continue to do this for national security reasons, but there’s really no minimum operation to our fleet’s activities or activities impacting the Air Force or the Army or the Marine Corps for any near term at all,” Del Toro said.

The announcement came after Hawaii’s governor and congressional delegation called on the Navy to suspend operations at the fuel storage complex that sits above an aquifer that supplies water to urban Honolulu.

Rear Admiral Blake Converse, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, said that the use of the tank farm was suspended on Nov. 27 but officials did not say why the Navy waited until Monday to make that announcement.

“I know there are concerns that we have not been transparent with the results of our testing and our procedures,” Del Toro stated. “You have my dedication and promise that the knowledge that we offer is probably the most correct info that now we have accessible.”

The Navy final week stated a water pattern from one of its wells confirmed the presence of petroleum. The properly is close to the underground fuel tank complex that has been the supply of a number of fuel leaks over time.

The Navy’s water system serves about 93,000 individuals. Nearly 1,000 navy households complained about their faucet water smelling like fuel or of illnesses like abdomen cramps and vomiting.

The Navy stated it could flush clear water by means of the distribution system to clear residual petroleum merchandise from the water. The course of, together with testing, might take as much as 10 days to verify the water meets Environmental Protection Agency consuming requirements.

The faucet water issues have one of the navy’s most essential bases, dwelling to submarines, ships and the commander of U.S. forces within the Indo-Pacific area. They additionally threaten to jeopardize one of Honolulu’s most essential aquifers and water sources.

During World War II, the Roosevelt administration was involved in regards to the vulnerability of above-the-ground fuel tanks to assaults — so the Navy constructed the tank farm named the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The facility has 20 steel-lined underground tanks, which may collectively retailer as much as 250 million gallons (946 million liters) of fuel. The tanks are encased in concrete and saved inside cavities of a volcanic mountain ridge close to Honolulu. Pipelines from the tanks run 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) inside a tunnel to fueling piers at Pearl Harbor.

The fuel within the tanks is utilized by the U.S. Air Force, Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and Hawaii National Guard for ships and plane. The Navy has stated Red Hill is important to maritime safety, regional stability, humanitarian help and continued prosperity within the Indo-Asia-Pacific area.

The Department of Defense has spent greater than $200 million on updating the ability and conducting environmental testing since 2006, in keeping with the Navy.


Associated Press writers Julie Watson in San Diego and Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, contributed to this report.

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