Navy provides preliminary response plan for Red Hill fuel spill

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 19 2014 05:59:16 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 20 2014 10:53:52 AM HST

Protecting Hawaii's drinking water is quickly becoming a top priority for lawmakers after an estimated 27,000 gallon fuel leak at the Red Hill facility.

HONOLULU -

Protecting our drinking water is quickly becoming a top priority for lawmakers after an estimated 27,000 gallon fuel leaked at the Red Hill facility.

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According to the city, the source of our drinking water lies just a hundred feet below the underground fuel tanks.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said preventing any negative impacts on the community while balancing national security concerns is a priority.

"That cannot be overstated enough. It’s our job that this is communicated as we go through this appropriations process, so people understand the seriousness of what’s occurring here," said Gabbard.

 

 Gabbard is fast becoming familiar with protecting the water supply.

 Her district already contains water treatment plants where pesticide residue from old pineapple plantations has to be filtered out of the ground water.

 

   A granular activated carbon plant located in Central Oahu cost almost $5 million dollars to build.

 

"We have them here in Mililani, Waipahu. We have facilities in Kunia. We also have facilities in Haleiwa and Waialua," said Erwin Kawata, of the Board of Water Supply.

 

If at some point the military's fuel reaches the Halawa shaft which supplies water to homes from Moanalua to Hawaii Kai, the city could be forced to build a facility two and a half times bigger than the Waipahu well facility.

"We cannot replace Halawa shaft in today’s dollars. It would be so expensive. To preserve it and protect is paramount for us," said Kawada.

 

The thing about the system is that you’ve got to replace the carbon filter and the Board of Water Supply's bill to do that is more than $2 million dollars a year.

 

The cost for filters at all the treatment plants is as added cost to consumers on their  monthly bills.

The military has been considering the need to build something similar for its Pearl Harbor well, which provides water for military residents.

The Navy is also currently in the process of evaluating just how many additional monitoring wells it may need to develop, and where they should go.

 

Officials hope to impress on Hawaii's congressional delegation that funding necessary to maintain Red Hill-- which fuels the entire Pacific Fleet---should also include protecting the island's aquifer.

  

"Let that urgency be known as we look at the picture of  national security and defense," Gabbard said.

 

Health officials are still evaluating the 30-page response plan provided by the Navy this week.

The military did not respond to our inquiries about the report.

 

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