Shut Down Red Hill
What is Red Hill?
The Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, located on the island of Oʻahu, was proposed in June 1940, and construction commenced before the U.S. entered World War II. It consists of 20, single walled, steel-lined tanks built into Kapūkakī (Red Hill). The tanks currently hold more than 100 million gallons of fuel, and they have been deteriorating. In fact, according to the Sierra Club, in September 2018 “sample testing by the Navy reveals that the fuel storage tanks at Red Hill are in much worse condition than predicted, showing far more corrosion and thinning than the Navy previously assumed. Originally constructed with quarter-inch thick steel, today these massive fuels tank’s walls are less than an eighth of an inch thick in some places.” Since they are single walled, there is no secondary containment for the fuel in case of cracks or corrosion.
Why is it a Concern?
In 2014, 2020, and 2021, a total of almost 60,000 gallons of fuel leaked into the area around the Fuel Storage Facility. The latest fuel spill in November 2021 contaminated the drinking water of thousands of homes at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and nearby Kapilina Beach Homes, which house a mix of military and non-military families. Nearly 93,000 people were affected by this spill. Some had to relocate to temporary housing for nearly 6 months, and some are still suffering health impacts. While military families have access to free health care through the federally funded Tricare health insurance and care system, non-military families currently have to rely on their own insurance and health care providers to address acute and continuing health problems.
What Needs to Be Done
Shut it down and defuel the tanks as quickly as possible! The people of Hawaiʻi have spoken, and, despite the resistance of the Navy, the Secretary of Defense eventually ordered the closure of the facility. However, the facility needs hundreds of repairs to safely drain the tanks. The longer this takes, the greater the risk for the people and environment of Hawaiʻi. Caring for the land and water around us is part of our human sacred trust. So is caring for each other — love of God, love of neighbor. As people of faith we urge our President and the Secretary of the Navy to press for a faster and more transparent process, including the following actions:
The U.S. Navy to immediately bring on and install 10 civilian members on the Join Task Force-Red Hill, all 10 selected by the Shut Down Red Hill Coalition, which is a coalition of health impacted families, Native Hawaiians, environmental organizations, and community members.
The U.S. Navy to immediately release the video they have, to the public, of the November 29, 2022 fire-suppression foam leak.
While working on their current plan that does not call for any fuel to come out of any tanks until 2024, hire an independent engineering firm, selected and overseen by the Department of Health and the Joint Task Force-Red Hill and not by the US Navy, to figure out how to drain the tanks from their tops, safely and without having to repair the entire facility which is the US Navy’s current plan.
The U.S. Navy to immediately declare the defueling of the Red Hill Fuel Facility Mission Critical and an Emergency.
How You Can Help
Individually, or preferably as a congregation, call or send a letter to President Joe Biden and/or Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. A template of the letter, one addressed to President Biden's office and the other to Secretary Austin, is linked below, using the first-person plural for churches or other faith groups to sign on to. Include your mailing address as the return address, use the current date, and either mail it with the original message or write your own message, especially if you wish to send your own personal message, letting our leaders know how important it is that the military address the extreme risk this facility poses to the life and health of our island communities.