For nearly 80 years, the U.S. Navy has stored well over 100 million gallons of fuel in 20, 20-story massive underground storage tanks in Kapūkakī, also known as Red Hill, a ridge between Hālawa and Moanalua.
Located a mere 100 feet above Oʻahu’s primary drinking water source these deteriorating tanks have leaked more than 180,000 gallons of fuel over their lifetime. Their walls have corroded to less than the thickness of a dime and are under high pressure from the large volume of jet fuel. While the Board of Water Supply maintains that Oʻahu’s drinking water is currently safe to consume, the recent pattern of leaks suggests that the tanks and their connected distribution system are failing and have a high probability of catastrophic failure that would make our water supply undrinkable:
- In 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from Tank 5.
- In March 2020, a pipeline connected to Red Hill leaked an unknown quantity of fuel into Pearl Harbor Hotel Pier. The leak, which had stopped, started again in June 2020. Approximately 7,100 gallons of fuel was collected from the surrounding environment.
- In January 2021, a pipeline that leads to the Hotel Pier area failed two leak detection tests. In February, a Navy contractor determined that there is an active leak at Hotel Pier. The Department of Health only found out in May.
- In May 2021, over 1,600 gallons of fuel leaked from the facility due to human error after a control room operator failed to follow correct procedures.
- In July 2021, 100 gallons of fuel was released into Pearl Harbor, possibly from a source connected to the Red Hill facility.
- In November 2021, residents from the neighborhoods of Foster Village and Aliamanu called 911 to report the smell of fuel, later found likely to have come from a leak from a fire suppression drain line connected to Red Hill. Approximately 90,000 persons were affected by the contaminated water. As of January 2022, thousands of military families are still unable to return to their homes.
- The Navy estimates that more than 19,000 gallons of a fuel may have leaked, much of it getting into the aquifer.
- The Navy’s own risk assessment reports that there is a 96% chance that up to 30,000 gallons of fuel will leak into the aquifer over the next 10 years.
The Red Hill fuel tanks are an environmental time bomb threatening the drinking water for 400,000 Oʻahu residents.
Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice joined with the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi and other organizations and individuals to form the Oʻahu Water Protectors.
We affirm that water is life. Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right.
We see the Red Hill fuel tanks as an existential threat to Oʻahu’s drinking water. They must be safely defueled as soon as possible. And the entire facility must be decommissioned.
We demand that local, state, and federal officials take urgent action to shut down the Red Hill fuel tanks in order to protect drinking water on Oʻahu.
Join our efforts to protect Oʻahu’s drinking water by endorsing this coalition statement and helping with outreach, education, and action.