The military entity charged with removing 104 million gallons of aviation and marine fuels from the Navy's controversial, underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Halawa marks a milestone Monday.
That day, Joint Task Force-Red Hill — composed of members of various U.S. armed services — will begin “repacking” operations to fill empty pipelines that snake for miles under and through the World War II-era facility with more fuel in order to remove any air.
That work will pave the way for gravity-based defueling of the site's main underground storage tanks by Oct. 16, according to Vice Adm. John Wade, who commands the task force.
“We are on schedule to start defueling in the middle of October,” Wade told a group of news reporters Friday following a media tour of the facility.
He added that the gravity method “is not fully dependent on electricity.”
“While many of the valves do require electrical power, some are hydraulically generated, some are manual; we'll have personnel at all of the valves,” he said.
Wade said defueling is scheduled for completion by Jan. 19 and would be conducted with the utmost care.
“That is why I'm here,” said Wade, “and why we've implemented a mitigation strategy to identify all of the threats and vulnerabilities and implement the strategy to reduce those risks.”
To reduce risk, the joint task force says it intends to fill the lines with fuel from the site's upper tank farm,…