EPA arrives to tour Navy’s Red Hill underground fuel storage tanks

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 10 2014 06:09:56 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 10 2014 08:57:08 PM HST

The Environmental Protection Agency wants a first hand look at the Red Hill Fuel Storage facility, and EPA inspectors will get that look tomorrow when they tour the site. KITV4's Catherine Cruz has more on documentation that shows Red Hill has been a concern for years.

HONOLULU -

 "It's a unique situation, a unique facility," said the Environmental Protection Agency's Dean Higuchi.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz's story.

Now the EPA wants to see if there are unique problems at the once top secret underground fuel tank facility at Red Hill.

An estimated 1.2 million gallons of fuel have leaked out from the 20 underground steel lined tanks since they were built in the 1940's.

In January, an estimated 27,000 gallons of fuel leaked from a tank that had just been repaired.

"We have been working with the state to keep abreast of the situation and our guys want to get on the ground and see what kind of expertise and knowledge they can lend to the state and navy," said Higuchi.

State and city officials are trying to assess the long term threat to our drinking water and are requesting updated studies.

The facility fuels the military's Pacific Fleet but the sheer size of its tanks--19 stories high-- and its age, is of concern.

A 2007 study for the military flagged this:

 "... the increasing age of the Facility increases the change that both the metal tank liners and the concrete foundation walls may fail together making future releases more of a concern."

 The report also used modeling to determine that a release of as little as 16,000 gallons of fuel could take five to six years for the cancer causing benzene to reach the Navy's water well.

According to the study the loss of the Pearl Harbor well which supplies 4 million gallons  of water to military families daily, would mean a strain on the board of water supply resources."

And perhaps more troubling the report noted:

"There is no effective way to quickly determine whether a release is occurring. It may not be detectable until quarterly groundwater samples are collected under the current system."

Tuesday’s tour is to include two officials with the EPA’s underground fuel storage tank program as well as a number of Board of Water Supply managers and State Health Department personnel.

The Navy denied KITV’s requests to tour the Red Hill facility.  The last time our cameras were allowed in was more than 20 years ago.

 

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