Military leaders: Plan to defuse fuel at Red Hill as Navy water test continues

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) – The US Department of Defense says plans to close the Red Hill facility are on hold, with decommissioning to begin in February 2024 and be completed by June 2024.

In a news release, the DOD said Joint Chiefs of Staff Red Hill Vice Admiral John Wade notified Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other senior military officials on Thursday.

It included the Secretary of the Navy, the Secretary of the Air Force and the Commander of INDO-PACOM.

Austin was also briefed on efforts to clean up the diesel spill at Haleakala.

Meanwhile, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam spoke concerns about water safety on Facebook Live.

“That water comes from the Waiwa Well, which is six miles west of the Red Hill Well,” said Capt. Mark Sohaney, commander of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“The Red Hill well that was used to supply water is no longer available and does not provide potable water.”

Sohaney also discussed the water sampling program the Navy started last year.

The results can be seen here jbphh-safewaters.org.

“We collected 4,600 samples from all 19 regions that were distributed during the water crisis,” said Sarah Moody, Red Hill Environmental VP of Strategic Operations.

“All of these samples show that the water meets drinking water standards.”

Residents can check their water by calling 808-449-1979.

While water advocates want the dredging to begin sooner, they recognize the Navy’s efforts to keep the public informed.

“Families on Oahu need to have this information to make the decisions that are best for their families,” said Helanie Sonoda-Pale, of the nonprofit advocacy group Oahu Water Protectors.

“They need to know what’s in our water, we need to know what’s going on in these facilities and what’s being put into our soil and water in our environment.”

There is still no resolution for non-military residents who received 1099s and may have to pay taxes on payments the Navy made to them for housing during the water crisis.

“The Defense Department and the Treasury Department are working on this,” Sohani said.

Navy personnel will host an information fair on April 5 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Block Arena.

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