Worst fuel spill case scenario outlined in 1998 Navy study

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Mar 05 2014 07:07:36 PM HST
Updated On: Mar 05 2014 07:52:09 PM HST

KITV 4 uncovers a 1998 Navy study about the risk of a worst case spill at the military's underground fuel storage facility at Red Hill.

HONOLULU -

Gwen Kurashima works at the teachers union located near the entrance of the Red Hill underground fuel storage facility, which used to be a top secret military installation.

Click here to watch Catherine Cruz' story.

Kurashima  has toured the massive military installation, and would like to think nobody living or working nearby is at great risk.

"Hopefully, the government takes enough precautions, enough security precautions," Kurashima said.

But KITV has obtained an environmental risk report prepared 16 years ago for the Navy.

The Wilbros Engineers' study looked at the scenarios of a catastrophic fuel release.

It concluded: "...a massive fuel release... would cause irreparable damage to the drinking water source below the site. The cost of cleanup would be prohibitive, long term and may not be completely successful."

The report raised a red flag about an unsealed manhole near a water pump station.

It noted:

"The fuel could seep into the manhole and flow directly into the drinking water."

"Once the drinking water is contaminated with this amount of fuel, few options exist."

 It added: "It is possible that pumps could be used to remove the fuel from the aquifer. This should remove a significant amount of fuel, but the volume of fuel involved makes total removal unlikely."

The report also raised questions about fuel getting into a shaft in a neighborhood near Makalapa Elementary School.

"The adjacent house,  and probably two neighboring houses will be in danger of being inundated with fuel.”

The study added that it was likely the fuel would run down the street and drain into Halawa Stream and Pearl Harbor affecting endangered birds, plants and marine life.

But it could also affect people up above on the freeway

"Fuel from the riser shaft may also flow down onto the H-1 freeway where it would become a hazard to motorists."

That is probably not a threat that Gwen Kurashima ever imagined.

The report did list a number of recommendations to mitigate the risk. But remember, the study does date back to 1998.

We have asked the military what it has done since then to address those concerns.

It responded by saying it continues to incorporate new technologies and refine its analysis to ensure early detection of any future leaks.

Lawmakers have scheduled a Friday briefing with officials from the Navy, State health department and the Board of Water Supply to learn more.

 

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