EPA, State of Hawaii Receive Navy’s Red Hill Fuel Tank Upgrade Study

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) are reviewing the draft Tank Upgrade Study for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as part of a 2015 Administrative Order on Consent (AOC) with the Navy. The Navy study provides in-depth conceptual design information for six upgrade options, but does not recommend one option. EPA, DOH and the Navy will use the study, along with community input and other work produced under the agreement, to select the final upgrade option.

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“This report provides EPA and DOH with information for us to evaluate as the Navy progresses in upgrading the Red Hill tanks,” said Alexis Strauss, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Work is proceeding under our enforceable agreement with the U.S. Navy as EPA and DOH oversee long-term solutions for the Red Hill facility to protect public health and Hawaii’s aquifers.”

A public information workshop will be held in spring 2018 to explain the report and allow EPA, DOH and the Navy to respond to questions and concerns from the community. After the workshop, the Navy will propose a tank upgrade option. EPA and DOH will hold a second public meeting about the Navy’s proposed upgrade decision before approving or disapproving the Navy’s proposal.

The Red Hill Tank Upgrade Study considered more than 30 different approaches to physical improvements to the tanks. Six of the 30 were ultimately selected for in-depth study and evaluated for 20 factors ranging from construction challenges and cost to inspection and maintenance requirements. Three improvement options use a single-walled tank system and three are double-walled systems.

“The Red Hill tank upgrade is an important issue to Hawaii residents, and the AOC outlines a process of careful analysis and decision-making that will result in the most appropriate final outcomes at the facility,” said Keith Kawaoka, Deputy Director, Hawaii Department of Health. “The Navy has met an important milestone in delivering this assessment of potential tank upgrade options.”

The Tank Upgrade Study and the Navy’s decision process for proposing a tank upgrade option are available for public review and comment at https://www.epa.gov/red-hill/tank-upgrade-alternatives-red-hill.  Any questions, comments or concerns related to the Red Hill Facility can be directed to DOH and EPA by sending an e-mail to red-hill@epa.gov or contacting agency representatives identified on our Red Hill websites.

In January 2014, while refilling Tank 5, the Navy identified a loss of jet fuel from the tank and reported it to DOH, estimating that about 27,000 gallons was released. The Navy drained the tank and collected samples from existing water monitoring wells. Results of samples taken around Tank 5 indicated a spike in levels of hydrocarbons. The Navy increased the frequency of monitoring at a nearby Navy drinking water well, and current monitoring results for the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam water system confirmed they were in compliance with federal and state drinking water standards both before and after the January release.

Red Hill, constructed in the 1940s, is a unique facility in the United States, consisting of 20 underground bulk fuel storage tanks built into a mountain hillside. Each tank is 250 feet tall and 100 feet in diameter, constructed of steel and encased in a minimum of 2.5 to 4 feet of concrete surrounded by basalt bedrock. Each tank has a fuel storage capacity of 12.5 to 12.7 million gallons, giving the facility a maximum capacity of approximately 250 million gallons. Eighteen tanks are currently active, and two are not in use.

For more information, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/red-hill and http://health.hawaii.gov/RedHill.

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