Nov. 4—The military has removed 62, 466, 890 gallons of fuel from the Navy's underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as of 2 p.m. Friday, according to a news release.
The military has removed 62, 466, 890 gallons of fuel from the Navy's underground Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility as of 2 p.m. Friday, according to a news release.
Joint Task Force Red Hill, the military organization tasked with removing the fuel, officially began draining the facility's massive tanks in October. The tanks, which held 104 million gallons when defueling began, sit 100 feet above a critical aquifer most of Honolulu relies on for drinking water.
Over the course of defueling, fuel will be transferred to tankers at Pearl Harbor, which will haul it to facilities in West Oahu run by Island Energy Services at Campbell Industrial Park, to a fuel storage point in San Diego, a fuel storage point in the Philippines at Subic Bay and another fuel storage point in Singapore.
This week JTF-RH transferred approximately 12 million gallons of JP5 jet fuel from tanks 9 and 11 to the merchant tanker Torm Thunder. Additionally, JTF-RH completed transfer of approximately 9.5 million gallons of F24 jet fuel from tanks 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as well as approximately 2.3 million gallons of JP5 from tank 10 to the tanker Empire State. The task force is currently loading fuel into to tanker Stena Impeccable.
Sunday is scheduled to be a crew rest day, but next week JTF-RH intends to continue transferring fuel to the Empire State as well as to an above-ground storage facility at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
The move to defuel the tanks was prompted by a November 2021 incident at Red Hill in which jet fuel leaked into the Navy's water system, which serves 93, 000 people on Oahu, including military families and civilians in former military housing areas.
In March 2022, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced that the military would drain the tanks and permanently close the facility. Navy officials began acknowledging that the facility had fallen into a state of deep disrepair and that it needed extensive work to safely remove the fuel without risking further spills or threats to the aquifer. JTF-RH spent a year making those repairs before it began defueling operations in October.
JTF-RH expects to remove most of the fuel from the Red Hill tanks by the end of January, with commercial tankers coming in and out of Pearl Harbor to haul it. But the long-term closure and remediation of the facility by the Navy is expected to take at least three years.