US: Pentagon to Shut Down Leaking Fuel Tank Facility in Hawaii | Military news
The US military’s decision comes after thousands of people were sickened by kerosene-contaminated water at Pearl Harbor.
The US Department of Defense will permanently shut down the massive Navy fuel tank facility in Hawaii that leaked oil into Pearl Harbor’s tap water, and remove all fuel, The Associated Press has learned.
A senior defense official said the decision, which Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin made on Monday, is based on a new Pentagon assessment but also complies with an order from the Hawaii Department of Health to drain fuel from Red Hill Bulk Fuel tanks. Storage facility.
The tanks, built into the side of mountains during World War II to protect them from enemy attack, had seeped into a drinking water well and contaminated the water in homes and offices in Pearl Harbor.
Nearly 6,000 people, mostly those who lived in military housing at or near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, have been sick, seeking treatment for nausea, headaches, rashes and other ailments. And 4,000 military families have been driven from their homes and are in hotels.
The defense official said Austin is speaking with Hawaii government leaders on Monday to brief them on the decision, which he says will protect people and the environment and also lay the foundation for a system safer military supply.
The military, which has relied in part on tank fuel from Hawaii, will now move to a more dispersed refueling system for military ships and aircraft in the Indo-Pacific.
Based on the new assessment, the expanded system will be more cost-effective and provide greater security by spreading the fuel supply more widely across the region, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss of a decision that has not yet been made public.
The new plan, outlined in recommendations presented in Austin by a study group, would increase the fuel contracts the United States has with other territories and nations in the Indo-Pacific, and add several more supply ships sea-based. There are currently a dozen supply ships, with several more expected to be built.
An assessment team that was studying how to make the tanks safe to use, will now move in and figure out how to close the tanks and remove the fuel in an environmentally friendly way. The team is to report back to Austin by the end of April with recommendations.
The official said once steps are taken to ensure the tanks can be emptied safely, refueling will begin. It should take about a year, so the whole process could be completed by next year. Austin instructed the Secretary of the Navy to plan a budget for all necessary corrective actions for any prior releases from the installation.
The tanks can hold 946 million liters (250 million gallons) of fuel, and they are currently at less than half capacity.
The giant US government fuel storage facility, which has supplied fuel to military ships and planes plying the Pacific Ocean since World War II, was a secret for years. The 20 fuel tanks were built into the mountain ridge to protect them from air attacks. Each tank is approximately the height of a 25-story building and can hold 47.3 million liters (12.5 million gallons).
The tanks are connected to underground pipelines that send fuel approximately four kilometers (2.5 miles) to Pearl Harbor and to ships and planes used by the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and the navy.
The Navy has not determined how the oil ended up in the water. Authorities are investigating a theory that kerosene spilled from a ruptured pipe last May and somehow entered a fire suppression system drain pipe. They suspect that fuel then leaked from the second pipe on November 20, sending it into the drinking water well.
After the leak was discovered, Hawaii state officials and members of Congress immediately began demanding the facility be shut down.
In early February, the Navy appealed that order, and at the time Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks said the appeal would give the military time “to make evidence-based and transparent decisions.” “.
The analysis team provided the alternative fuel recommendations to Austin. The manager said it is not yet clear what the final cost will be.