Red Hill Update – NAVY Says Water Remains Safe to Drink

Last week, Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, sent another Red Hill “stakeholder letter” to business and community leaders and elected officials. Fuller shared the latest information about the fuel storage facility and how the Navy is keeping drinking water safe.

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, left of right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit to one of the fuel tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where leaders and subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group, Middle Pacific, left of right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit to one of the fuel tanks at the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where leaders and subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

The letter is a means for keeping communication lines open, providing details about ongoing improvements, and thanking public officials and the community for support to the military and its mission in Hawaii.

Fuller’s letter opens with a note of appreciation.

“Before I discuss Red Hill, I feel honored to thank you for your heartfelt expressions of aloha and continued support to the families, friends and colleagues of the 12 Marines who recently lost their lives during night training off of Oahu.”

Regarding new information about advancements in and around Red Hill:

“I am pleased to report that on December 4, 2015, staff from the Navy, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH), and Region IX of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded a week of face-to-face, in-depth meetings in accordance with the Administrative Order on Consent signed on September 28, 2015.”

Fuller noted, “These initial scoping meetings met our objectives.  The participants organized into groups to address specific sections of the statement of work within the order including:  tank inspection, repair and maintenance procedures report; tank upgrade alternatives report; corrosion and metal fatigue practices report; and the groundwater flow model and contaminant fate and transport report.  We are pleased with the outcome of these discussions.”

Regulatory agencies approved outlines for reports on fuel release monitoring systems and corrosion and metal fatigue practices.

The Navy is working closely with stakeholders. The team expects to complete the scoping work for tank inspection, repair, and maintenance procedures, and for tank upgrade alternatives, by the end of March.  Draft reports for release detection/tank tightness testing and corrosion and metal fatigue practices are due in April.

The Navy uses ten groundwater sampling locations now and plans to install four additional groundwater monitoring wells to “improve our ability to assess and predict the potential migration of subsurface fuel constituents.”

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Lovgren, fuel director at Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor‐Hickam. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Lt. Cmdr. Andrew Lovgren, fuel director at Naval Supply Systems Command Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor, right, briefs members of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, Moanalua Valley Community Association and Pearl City Neighborhood Board No. 21 during a visit at Joint Base Pearl Harbor‐Hickam. The group visited the modernized Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, where subject matter experts showed how the Navy maintains the facility as a national strategic asset. Red Hill provides fuel to operate overseas while ensuring drinking water in the area remains safe. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Laurie Dexter/Released)

Fuller noted, “The Navy continues to monitor the quality of the drinking water sources closest to the Red Hill facility and share that data with EPA and DOH.  As I mentioned in my November 2015 letter, over the years, we intermittently detected trace amounts of fuel constituents adjacent to the Navy’s Red Hill drinking water shaft . at barely detectable levels.  The other important facts about our trace detections are that these levels are far below DOH Environmental Action Levels (EAL), and most importantly, these levels pose no risk to human health.”

He added, “Most recently, in July 2015, we detected trace amounts of Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons (a fuel constituent) at an estimated value of 17 parts per billion, well below the EAL of 100 parts per billion. Our EPA-certified lab had to estimate the amount because the detection level was too low to accurately quantify.”

The drinking water near Red Hill is safe and has been safe through 70 years of operation.

“The water was and continues to be safe to drink,” Fuller said.  “Moving from today and looking into the future, the Navy will continue to perform diligent and careful water quality analyses on our water.  We will continue to submit water test results to DOH, and will promptly inform DOH, EPA and the public if there is ever any risk to the safety of the drinking water.”

Fuller concluded his letter with another note of appreciation to the community:

“Thank you for your continued support to our military and our mission in Hawaii.  Please do not hesitate to contact me should you have any concerns regarding Red Hill or our progress.  I encourage you to review the Navy’s website on Red Hill and suggest that you subscribe to EPA’s website.  You can find those sites at www.cnic.navy.mil/redhill and www.epa.gov/region9/waste/ust/redhill/index.html.”

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