I just met with Federal EPA and State Department of Health personnel on the Navy’s work to upgrade the 20 fuel tanks that hold up to 240 million gallons of diesel and jet fuel – 100 feet above Oahu’s primary drinking water supply.
You may remember, Tank 5 leaked an estimate 27,000 gallons of fuel in January, 2014. Based on a later Administrative Order, the Navy agreed to upgrade the tanks – but over a 22-year period.
It appears that the Navy has not been doing its best in their response over the past two years.
The EPA and DOH had to reject the Navy’s first report, on the grounds that they made conclusions without sufficient data. It’s taken them two years to approve a well that is needed to monitor the flow of groundwater – which we need to know whether the contaminants under the tanks are moving towards the drinking water wells.
The Navy is now assessing 6 possible upgrades to the tanks. The first three are the cheapest (see the picture). None of those three meet the current federal standards for building underground tanks today. It seems the only reason these three options are even on the table is to save costs in the upgrade.
More worrisome is the Navy’s proposal for keeping the tanks in service. These tanks were built in the 1940s. They are nearly 80-years old. Apparently the Navy says they want to keep them in service another 40 years. But guarens-ball-bearins, in 40 years they’re going to want to keep them in service longer.
Which makes it even more puzzling why the first three options are on the table.
I didn’t like this agreement in the first place. It gives the Navy waaaay to long to upgrade the tanks. It doesn’t set a minimum level of quality for the upgrade. It allows cost to be a factor in the acceptable upgrade – meaning they can do a less expensive upgrade, and not have to remove the tanks. And it gives the EPA the final say over what is acceptable work by the Navy.
There are only a few people in the EPA underground storage tank section. And our current President has proposed to cut their budget by 30-40%.
Hey! These are our aquifers and our drinking water. The tanks may be an engineering marvel. But they don’t hold a candle to our aquifers, in design or national importance.
Please come to the Red Hill Fuel Tank meeting tonight. Or if you can’t, please contact your state and federal representatives to share your concerns.
Moanalua Middle School
June 22 6:00 – 8:00 pm