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Red Hill: Health, Security, and Environment are Key Motivators for DOD Response

Red Hill: Health, Security, and Environment are Key Motivators for DOD Response

November saw water supplies in Honolulu poisoned by fuel from Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby stated that the Defense Department is still working on the issue. 

“[The] No. No. [and]Kirby stated that civilian residents have been affected by the contamination during a briefing at the Pentagon today. 

He stated that the Navy continues to address the issue and Kirby stated that around 4,000 military families have been displaced due to the water contamination. 

He said, “We’re trying get them… back in their quarters as soon as possible.” 

A second priority is ensuring the contributions to national security provided by the Red Hill facility will continue — regardless of what happens to Red Hill itself, he said. Red Hill is responsible in part for the Indo-Pacific region’s most important operations. 

He said that the Defense Department’s commitment is to the environment. 

He stated, “We… want make sure that we are absolutely being great stewards for the environment.” “And we do it all over the world. We know that Hawaii is the best place to do so. It’s an environment we enjoy and which we are proud of. It’s a place we live in and we are aware of the significant responsibilities that we have.” 

Yesterday, Kathleen Hicks, Deputy Defense Secretary, met with Hawaii Governor. David Ige met yesterday with Hawaii Gov. to discuss the Red Hill situation. 

Hicks stated that they had discussed ways to work together in order to resolve some pending legal issues. 

The undersecretary stated that the Department is continuing to act in accordance with an emergency order issued by the Hawaii Department of Health. This included suspending fuel transfers at Red Hill and implementing a series of sampling and testing protocols as well as installing new equipment to treat Oahu’s water resources. 

“As required by an emergency order… we will submit a work plan to the Hawaii Department of Health and a schedule for implementation for a qualified third-party commercial firm to assess the facility operations, system integrity, and safety of operating and/or defueling Red Hill,” Hicks explained, adding that the plan must also be submitted by February 2, 2022. 

Hicks spoke out about the future of Red Hill’s facility and said that the Department is currently analyzing the distributions of fuel reserves in the Pacific theatre. 

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She stated that “This analysis by Department of Defense will be complete within sixty days to allow the Secretary of Defense make a decision about the role of Red Hill moving ahead.” 

Another order from the Hawaii Department of Health was for Red Hill to be drained of fuel. The Department has the right to appeal this order and plans to do so. 

Hicks stated that this will give them time to make transparent and evidence-based decisions. 

Kirby stated that Red Hill has been temporarily suspended all fuel operations. The Department will continue to have responsibility for those who are affected by the contamination, the environment, and national security. 

“We know we’ve got responsibilities here to get this right — to get this right for families affected — not just military families — but residents of the state of Hawaii,” he said. “We don’t know everything right now about Red Hill’s future, nor do we know where Red Hill will go long-term. However, one thing is certain: We are going to have security obligations in the Indo-Pacific long-term. We need to ensure that whatever plan we have, whatever we do, can continue to defend the country from the Indo-Pacific Theater. 

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