By Zachary FR Anderson, AsAmNews Contributor
On Tuesday, US Naval officials announced that they will de-fuel the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in compliance with a state order issued by Hawaii’s Department of Health.
“The Navy caused this problem. We own it and we’re going to fix it,” said Rear Adm. Blake Converse, Deputy Commander of the US Pacific Fleet in remarks to the House Armed Services Subcommittee for Readiness.
Earlier last month, the Navy announced to the public that between May and December of 2021, jet fuel stored at the Red Hill facility leaked into the system that provides over 93,000 residents of both Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and some surrounding communities with fresh drinking water. As a result of the contamination, more than 1,700 military families were displaced over the holiday season.
The Navy’s compliance with the de-fueling order is a change from when the Hawaii Department of Health issued the order in early December. Back then, legal representation for the Navy claimed that the Red Hill facility was a critical asset to national security.
“Nothing is more important than the health, the safety, and the well-being of our [military] families, our military residents, our neighbors, and the communities that we call home,” said Converse at the congressional hearing.
Health officials and activists in Hawaii, however, are still skeptical of whether the Navy will truly comply with the order.
“There’s often huge gaps between commitments and statements in writing from the US military and what happens in our community,” Khara Jabola-Carolus, Executive Director of the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women, said to AsAmNews. “So I think we are still very much on guard.”
According to Kawena’ulaokala Kapahua of the Oahu Water Protectors, both environmental and Hawaii sovereignty activists still plan to hold the Navy accountable to its word.
“They still have thirty days to decide how to [de-fuel] and they can still appeal the order,” said Kapahua in a text to AsAmNews. “Once that fuel is out, it’s not going back in.”
AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story, or making a contribution.