In a video released Wednesday, the military officer charged with defueling the Navy's underground Red Hill fuel facility pledged that “every last drop will be removed.”
Joint Task Force Red Hill began removing the fuel in October after more than a year of making repairs and upgrades to the World War II-era facility and the pipelines that connect it to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Since then just over 104 million gallons have been removed, which the military says is 99.9 % of what is in the facility.
Last week JTF-RH announced it had successfully removed all “usable fuel ” from the facility. In the video update JTF-RH commander Adm. John Wade said about 64, 000 gallons of “residual fuel ” remain in the tanks along with an estimated 28, 000 gallons of “sludge ” sediment at the bottom of each tank.
Up to this point the military has relied on “gravity defueling.” The facility was built inside a mountain to allow the tanks to use gravity to feed the pipelines connecting Red Hill to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, saving the energy that might otherwise be required to pump fuel through the pipes. But military officials say the remaining fuel can't be removed by gravity alone and will require extra efforts to clean up.
The facility sits just 100 feet above a critical aquifer most of Honolulu relies on for drinking water. Though local officials and community leaders warned that poses a major threat to Oahu's water…