The Navy resumed work today on a new groundwater monitoring well near the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Facility, demonstrating an ongoing commitment to protect drinking water on Oahu.
The monitoring well, one of four new wells to be installed in coming months, will help scientists and Navy engineers sample and check water quality and evaluate how groundwater moves in the vicinity of Red Hill.
The installation of the newest monitoring well is in accordance with the Administrative Order on Consent agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and State of Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).
In EPA’s latest Red Hill website update* the agency states the Navy has been testing groundwater at the Red Hill facility since 2005 and adds, “These new wells will supply additional data to identify the presence of contamination, better characterize groundwater flow, and guide future investigations.”
Understanding Red Hill geology and groundwater flow is a high priority. The Navy broke ground for the well earlier this month, but digging was temporarily put on hold due to Tropical Storm Darby.
“Last week we began installing an additional groundwater monitoring site to better understand exactly how groundwater moves in the area,” said Rear Adm. John Fuller, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific. “Public records confirm that all drinking water remains safe, and this well is more tangible evidence that we are committed to keeping the drinking water safe.”
EPA reports: “Public water systems that supply drinking water to Oahu residents are required to routinely test drinking water for contaminants. All drinking water supplies in the vicinity of Red Hill continue to meet all federal drinking water standards.”
The installation of the new well coincides with visits by groups of senior civilian leaders and delegates this month. Last Monday, July 18, U.S. Representatives Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) and Bradley Byrne (R-AL), among other legislators, visited Red Hill. Navy subject matter experts provided a tour of the facility and status update briefings.
“In the past two-and-a-half years, we hosted several hundred legislators, community leaders and other stakeholders for visits to the Red Hill facility. At the same time, we continue to work closely with regulators to protect the aquifer,” said Fuller.
Since 2006, the Navy has invested nearly $200 million to continue modernizing Red Hill.
At a cost of half-a-million dollars, construction of this latest monitoring well is expected to take about one month and be completed by the end of August. The Navy will continue to routinely take water samples and send them to an independent accredited commercial laboratory for analysis, using industry-standard EPA test methods. And the Navy will continue to submit test results to DOH and EPA for evaluation, assessment and public dissemination.
Data from groundwater samples are designed to identify whether additional action is warranted.
Red Hill is a key part of the Rim of the Pacific exercise 2016. It is a national strategic asset that provides fuel essential to our nation’s defenders.