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Navy pushes back against cleanup timeline, emptying fuel tanks as Honolulu water crisis continues

Also on Wednesday, the Navy filed paperwork against the Hawaii Department of Health’s Environmental Health Division, which issued the order on Dec. 6. The Navy has consistently opposed the plan, which would require the Navy to submit a department-approved assessment and plans for how to dismantle the fuel tanks. In their latest filing, officials claimed that the Department of Health lacks the authority to compel the Navy to act accordingly because the Navy doesn’t consider the contamination issue an emergency. “There is no evidence in the record showing that facility operations pose an inherent risk of causing harm, such that merely resuming operations would automatically give rise to ‘grave risk; jeopardy; danger’ that is ‘likely to occur at any moment,’” the filing noted.

Department of Health Deputy Director Marian Tsuji has 30 days to review the filing and make a decision about it. In the meantime, officials plan to move ahead with their plans of repeatedly flushing out the Red Hill system. The Navy wants to find a way to repurpose any clean water it may be flushing out and promised that no contaminated water would be improperly used. Over the course of flushing the pipes, the Navy estimates that 15,000 gallons per day will be used. Officials promised they would get an exact number to lawmakers. The Navy said that the amount does not exceed water conservation restrictions and is equivalent to normal water usage.

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