The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Tuesday that it has approved the military's plan to defuel the Navy's underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, set to begin Oct. 16.
Joint Task Force Red Hill, the military organization formed in September 2022 to remove the fuel from Red Hill's massive underground tanks, crafted its Defueling Preparedness Report outlining how it plans to proceed with safe defueling.
The stakes are high. The tanks currently store 104 million gallons of fuel and sit just 100 feet above a critical aquifer most of Honolulu depends on for drinking water. Local health officials have called the World War-II era Red Hill facility a “time bomb ” that threatens Oahu's water supply.
“EPA's approval of the joint task force report is a significant milestone in the process to safely defuel Red Hill, ” EPA Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator Martha Guzman said in a Tuesday media release. “This decision reflects our collaborative efforts with [the] Hawaii Department of Health to work with the Department of Defense on ensuring the closure of the facility and protection of the area's drinking water. This work is critical to safeguarding public health and the environment on Oahu.”
Navy officials for years…