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State reaffirms decision to shut down Red Hill fuel farm

By ‘A’ali’i Dukelow

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    HONOLULU, Hawaii (KITV) — On Monday, state hearings officer David Day upheld the state’s emergency order on the Red Hill fuel storage facility, describing it as a “metaphorical ticking timebomb located 100 feet above the most important aquifer on Hawai’i’s most populous island.”

The state’s order demands that the Navy cease operations at the facility, drain the 250 million gallons of fuel from its underground tanks, and install a drinking water treatment plan.

“We are thrilled with the hearing officer’s recommendations, which recognizes that the Navy has precipitated a public health and environmental crisis and the state needs to respond promptly and thoroughly to make sure that this threat is removed,” Earthjustice senior attorney David Henkin said.

Monday’s announcement comes a week after an hours-long hearing involving arguments between the Navy, Dept. of Health, Board of Water Supply, and environmentalists over whether the fuel storage site poses an environmental and public safety hazard.

Over the past 80 years, 200,000 gallons of fuel leaked from the tanks.

Wayne Chung Tanaka, head of the Sierra Club of Hawai’i, called the Navy’s response to the tainted water crisis “discouraging and frightening.”

“They have continued to treat our water, our residents, even their own families as expendable, in their obstinate refusal to acknowledge that this facility cannot be maintained in a way that will protect our safety and the wellbeing of not just our generation but future generations to come,” Tanaka added.

The Navy told KITV-4 it is “aware of the proposed decision and have no further statement at this time.”

Navy personnel have two days to respond.

DOH deputy director Marian Tsuji has up to 30 days from Monday or after exceptions or objections are filed to make a final decision.

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