Hawai’i Peace and Justice demands that the U.S. Navy empty and shut down twenty giant 79-year-old leaking jet fuel tanks that are embedded in Red Hill above Pearl Harbor Naval Base and that sit 100 feet above the water supply of Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii. In November 2021, the drinking water for 93,000 residents was contaminated by fuel from these tanks and two wells closed down.
The U.S. Navy has 225 million gallons of jet fuel stored in these tanks that now are as thin as a dime with the pressure of 12.5 million gallons in each tank.
With the November 2021 contamination of 93,000 residents who ironically are in the military communities around Pearl Harbor, we know it is only a matter of time before contamination may reach the aquifer polluting the water for 400,000 residents of Honolulu.
The Governor and members of the Hawai’i Congressional delegation have finally called for suspension of Red Hill operations and the removal of the fuel from the tanks.
According to ABS Consulting, a firm hired by the U.S. Navy, there is a 27.6% chance of a leak of up to 30,000 gallons of fuel during any given year which has been called a “conservative” estimate by an EPA specialist.
ABS also calculated a 34% chance of a release of over 120,000 gallons in the next 100 years. Chronic, undetected releases are expected to total 5,803 gallons per year, according to ABS.
In 2014, Fuel tank #5 leaked 24,000 gallons. That same fuel tank was put back into operation in 2020.
In September 2019, the Navy released its preferred plan on how to upgrade the Red Hill tanks after studying six tank upgrade options. The Navy’s preferred choice—the least protective and least expensive option—is to keep the original steel tank liner, coat it with epoxy, and explore installing a water treatment plant to filter toxic chemicals from Oʻahu’s drinking water in the case of another major leak.
The plan also commits to some undefined, undetermined “double-wall equivalency” solution or relocation of the tanks “around 2045”– which proposes to extend the deadline to upgrade the tanks another 7 years using some unknown, future technology that is not actually a double-walled solution.
The idea of putting off another 20 years until 2045 a decision on the future of the tanks is irresponsible. Other Department of Defense fuel tanks locations have replaced their aging fuel tanks that too have had leaks. With the largest budget in U.S. history-over $780 billion this year, DOD can certainly put into its budget the removal of the fuel tanks from Red Hill.
The $194 million overhaul of the Point Loma-San Diego, California fuel tanks began in 2005 and was finished in 2013. 54 underground and above-ground fuel storage tanks were replaced with eight tanks, all above ground. Fuel tanks at Kitsap Naval Base, Washington are also being replaced.
While Department of Defense will cite national security for the necessity of retaining the tanks, as residents of Oahu we believe our human security demands the protection of our water supply. We residents of Oahu rely on the Department of Health to protect us from danger. Red Hill jet fuel tanks are the biggest danger the residents of Oahu have.