The Navy says it has suspended use of a huge World War II-era fuel storage complex near Pearl Harbor after days of complaints that tap water smelled like fuel and made some people sick. .
But the Hawaii state government’s order requiring the suspension remains in effect until independent reviewers can ensure that appropriate actions are taken to protect drinking water.
The state also wants the Navy to treat contaminated drinking water and remove fuel from 20 huge underground storage tanks at a complex called the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
Lyle Goldstein, Asia Pacific and regional director of maritime security, said leaving the storage facility unused could impact operations at a critical time for the Navy, especially when Tensions have increased in the Pacific with China’s claims of Taiwan increasing over the past year. Join the defense priority team.
The Hawaii Department of Health on Monday ordered the Navy to suspend operations at the fuel facility, citing the governor’s authority to act if there is an “imminent risk to human health and safety.” or the environment” due to a leak or operation of a system underground storage tank.
The order came shortly after Navy officials said they had suspended combined fuel operations. The state health department had scheduled a hearing for Tuesday afternoon, but it was adjourned after the Navy informed state officials that it planned to enforce the emergency order.
Navy officials on Tuesday did not respond to emails and phone messages seeking comment on why the order is being contested even though use of the fuel complex has been suspended.
“The well-being of Hawaii and the safety of our residents, including military families, must come first. We cannot have national security without ensuring the health and safety of our communities,” Governor David Ige, a Democrat, said in a statement.
When announcing the closure of the complex that supplies fuel to US military ships and planes patrolling the Pacific, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro on Monday did not say how long it would last but stressed that the impact of the cuts on military operations would be “very minimally effective, if any, right now. “
But Goldstein, of Asia Engagement at Defense Priorities, said losing the option to use the refueling complex poses a strategic challenge to the US military’s ability to operate effectively.
“Hawaii is actually probably the most important US base in the whole Asia Pacific so this is definitely a big challenge for the Navy,” he said. “I cannot stress enough that the fleet cannot operate without fuel and the fuel consumption is indeed enormous. I don’t think people realize what it takes to keep a carrier group moving and flying.”
According to Goldstein, although the Navy uses nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, large amounts of conventional fuel are still required for the aircraft carrier-based and for the ships that protect them.
Del Toro said he doesn’t “want to delve into topics with conversations regarding how long we can keep doing this for national security reasons, but there’s really no activity.” minimal action to our fleet operations affecting the Air Force or Army or Marine Corps for any near term. “
The Roosevelt administration during World War II ordered the construction of the Red Hill underground facility. Experts said Japan her attack on Pearl Harbor could have done more damage and possibly changed the outcome of the war if she had hit the fuel depot in Hawaii instead of the American ships.
Ige spokeswoman Cindy McMillan said Tuesday Ige has no more detailed comment on the state’s effort to suspend use of the fuel tank complex because he is participating in events marking the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The Navy’s water system serves approximately 93,000 people in and near Pearl Harbor, and nearly 1,000 military households have complained about their tap water. Some people said they have suffered from physical ailments such as cramps and vomiting recently after taking it.
Testing of water samples last week revealed the presence of petroleum in water taken from a well near an underground fuel tank complex that has been the cause of many fuel leaks over the years.
Del Toro on Monday said officials are getting close to determining the cause of the problem and that once the investigation is complete and reviewed, the Navy will put in place underwater safety precautions.
He apologized for what he called “a terrible, terrible tragedy”.
Watson reports from San Diego.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/navy-hawaii-honolulu-asia-pacific-japan-b1971749.html Navy opposes Hawaii’s suspension, withdrawal of fuel tanks