Navy halts Hawaii fuel tank operations during investigation

HONOLULU (AP) — The Navy will stop operations at fuel storage tanks above a Hawaii aquifer until the completion of its own investigation into how petroleum got into tap water.

In a memo dated Tuesday, Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said “corrective actions shall be performed as expeditiously as possible.”


The Navy told Department of Health officials Wednesday that it shut down the Aiea Halawa shaft Friday, the second since it quietly shut down the Red Hill shaft on Nov. 28, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, reported.

The Navy previously said it was suspending use of the massive fuel storage complex near Pearl Harbor following days of complaints that tap water smells like fuel and has sickened some people.

But the Navy also informed Hawaii officials it was contesting a state order demanding that the suspension remain in effect until independent evaluators can ensure that appropriate actions are taken to protect drinking water.

State officials want the Navy to treat contaminated drinking water and remove fuel from the massive 20 underground storage tanks at the complex called the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

In response to the memo, Hawaii’s deputy director of environmental health said state officials appreciate the Navy’s suspension of operations but that an independent analysis of the situation is still needed.

The state order “provides clear parameters to pause operations, treat contaminated drinking water and safely defuel the Red Hill underground storage tanks,” said the deputy director, Kathleen Ho.

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