JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Commander, Navy Region Hawaii issued a fifth Red Hill Fuel Facility "stakeholder letter" to local community leaders, neighborhood board members and elected officials, Dec. 22.
The letter, signed by Rear Adm. John Fuller, commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, updates the community about the Navy's ongoing modernization upgrades at the facility and continued efforts to protect drinking water in the area.
After thanking people for their support in commemorating the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor and honoring our veterans, Fuller addressed the beginnings and importance of the facility.
"Decades ago, forward-thinking Americans designed and constructed the Red Hill facility to maintain and protect vital fuel supplies in the Pacific," Fuller wrote. "At the same time, in the 1930s and 40s, our adversaries and eventual enemies were invading other countries in Asia and Europe for oil and other natural resources. After the attack on Oahu, American Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen and Coast Guardsmen achieved victory against fascism in the Pacific, thanks in no small part to the support given by the people here in Hawaii and the fuel from the Red Hill Fuel Facility. Maintaining Red Hill's capacity and logistic support to our forces is as essential to our national security today as it was 75 years ago."
The admiral also acknowledged issues of national interest with reassurance for those here at home.
"There have been multiple stories in the news lately discussing unsafe drinking water across the country and they remind us about the vital role drinking water plays in our lives. The Red Hill infrastructure and facility are modern and sound. The Navy, under regulation by the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency, regularly tests the quality of drinking water. Your drinking water is safe and we will continue following federal regulations and using science to help us better understand how to keep protecting our water," Fuller said in his letter.
To help clarify some of the concerns expressed, Fuller explained differences between ground water and drinking water testing.
"Our Red Hill drinking water comes from an underground aquifer. The Navy tests that drinking water to ensure it meets the federal and state law safety standards. We also test ground water. The Navy employs a system of ground water monitoring wells to determine if fuel products are moving towards the Red Hill drinking water well," Fuller said. "We strategically placed the [ground water monitoring] wells at Red Hill and between the Red Hill fuel facility and drinking water distribution system."
"Although some ground water samples directly under the fuel tanks tested above drinking water standards, specifically for petroleum products, based on AOC Section 6/7 analysis, we have not seen the contamination below Tank 5 move toward our Red Hill drinking water pumps. The key point to remember is ground water only becomes drinking water after it enters a water distribution system," he emphasized.
Fuller included in his letter a response to concerns expressed on the Navy's transparency regarding Red Hill.
"As discussed in September, we were preparing to participate in a number of AOC (Administrative Order on Consent) community events in October, to include a public meeting, the inaugural Fuel Tank Advisory Committee session, and key AOC scoping meetings," Fuller said. "We sent senior Navy representatives to the public meeting to directly interact with the local community and AOC stakeholders, specifically to discuss updates and any other questions or concerns about Red Hill. That same morning, the State Department of Health hosted the Fuel Tank Advisory Committee to help bridge communication gaps between the public, city, state, and federal agencies. Lastly, we participated in the face-to-face scoping meetings between all AOC parties where the stakeholders conducted another successful exchange that evaluated the AOC's most technical aspects together."
In addition to the public meetings, transparency efforts include a new video and magazine article. Fuller commented on the updated video.
"It's a little shorter now and focuses on the facility's legacy and strategic significance. The video also highlights how your Navy is keeping the drinking water safe through constant vigilance, monitoring and testing, and by conducting maintenance and modernization projects throughout the Red Hill facility. We hope you take the time to watch it to gain some insights on the scope, importance and operations at Red Hill."
The video can be seen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Bx81rD206A.
The Navy's energy and environmental magazine "Currents" just published a cover story, Navy Intensifies Modernization of Red Hill Bulk Fuel Facility: Improvements in Oversight, Technology & Operating Procedures Guard Against Future Releases. The issue can be found online at http://greenfleet.dodlive.mil/currents-magazine/.
Fuller added, "The magazine also has several features from our Pacific Missile Range Facility I think you'd enjoy."
The first four stakeholder letters from Rear Adm. Fuller, along with other information and photos, are available at www.cnic.navy.mil/redhill. Other information is available at: https://www.epa.gov/red