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Drinking Water Remains Safe in Red Hill Vicinity

06/10/15 12:00 AM

Laboratory test results continue to indicate no fuel or fuel constituents in drinking water

PEARL HARBOR - Results of recent laboratory tests indicate that Navy drinking water sources continue to meet federal regulatory Safe Drinking Water and State of Hawaii standards, and the water is safe to drink.

Test results of samples drawn from the Red Hill Shaft drinking water well that serves Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in the vicinity of Red Hill were provided to the State Department of Health on June 9.  The results from an independent certified laboratory are "non-detect" for all parameters tested, indicating there is no fuel contamination in the drinking water source.

Laboratory tests have been conducted at least quarterly on water samples taken from various wells in the area since a fuel release of 27,000 gallons was reported on Jan. 13, 2014 by operators at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

Tests on drinking water samples taken since the release have consistently been well within federal and state guidelines, most often as non-detect, or no presence of fuel contamination in drinking water wells.

The Red Hill facility is a national strategic asset that provides secure fuel storage for ships and aircraft of U.S. Pacific Fleet and other military branches.  "While the facility's value to our nation remains vital as America rebalances its forces to the Indo-Asia-Pacific, the Navy considers the availability of safe drinking water on Oahu to be a non-negotiable requirement," said Capt. Dean Tufts, Regional Engineer for Navy Region Hawaii.

"Drinking water in the communities surrounding Red Hill remains safe," Tufts added.  "And the Navy has maintained a state-approved groundwater protection plan since 2008, updated three times (in 2009, 2010, and 2014), and we continue to coordinate routine updates with the State Department of Health."

The Navy is committed to ensuring the Red Hill fuel storage facility is maintained with the best available, practicable technology, complies with all regulations, and is operated safely.   Since 2006, the Department of Defense has invested over $150 million improving operations, modernizing facilities, and conducting environmental monitoring.  There are more than $60 million in current and planned projects. This is in addition to projects and upgrades that will be developed through the Administrative Order on Consent announced by the Environmental Protection Agency and the DOH on June 1.

"The AOC provides an engineering-based roadmap for the operation of Red Hill. The Navy and Defense Logistics Agency are ready to move forward within the framework of this consent order" Tufts said. "With the AOC, we can improve the protection of drinking water, while preserving an important strategic asset."

The Navy is also preparing to announce their latest annual water quality reports.  "Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Hawaii is the Navy's water purveyor in Hawaii and its personnel operate six water systems," said Environmental Business Line Director Aaron Poentis. "Providing safe drinking water to customers is a mission-critical responsibility we take very seriously."

As with all other drinking water providers throughout the country, NAVFAC Hawaii is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to report test results on water that has been delivered over the past year.  The report for 2014 will show that all Navy water sampling/testing met federal and state drinking water standards and that the results were provided to state regulators as required for review and analysis.

The Water Quality Reports are mailed or hand-delivered to NAVFAC Hawaii's customers in June.