NATIONAL NEWS

US military drains fuel from tank facility that leaked fuel into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water

Mar 27, 2024, 8:23 PM

HONOLULU (AP) — The U.S. military said it’s finished draining million of gallons of fuel from an underground fuel tank complex in Hawaii that poisoned 6,000 people when it leaked jet fuel into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water in 2021.

Joint Task Force Red Hill began defueling the tanks in October after completing months of repairs to an aging network of pipes to prevent the World War II-era facility from springing more leaks while it drained 104 million (393.6 million liters) of fuel from the tanks.

The task force was scheduled to hand over responsibility for the tanks on Thursday to Navy Closure Task Force-Red Hill. This new command, led by Rear Adm. Stephen D. Barnett, is charged with permanently decommissioning the tanks, cleaning up the environment and restoring the aquifer underneath.

Vice Adm. John Wade, the commander of the task force that drained the tanks, said in a recorded video released Wednesday that Barnett understands “the enormity and importance” of the job.

Wade said the new task force’s mission was to “safely and expeditiously close the facility to ensure clean water and to conduct the necessary long-term environmental remediation.”

The military agreed to drain the tanks after the 2021 spill sparked an outcry in Hawaii and concerns about the threat the tanks posed to Honolulu’s water supply. The tanks sit above an aquifer supplying water to 400,000 people in urban Honolulu, including Waikiki and downtown.

The military built the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in the side of a mountain ridge to shield the fuel tanks from aerial attack. Each of the 20 tanks is equivalent in height to a 25-story building and can hold 12.5 million gallons (47.3 million liters).

A Navy investigation said a series of errors caused thousands of gallons of fuel to seep into the Navy’s water system serving 93,000 people on and around the Pearl Harbor naval base in 2021. Water users reported nausea, vomiting and skin rashes.

The Navy reprimanded three now-retired military officers for their roles in the spill but didn’t fire or suspend anybody.

Shortly after learning of the spill, the Honolulu Board of Water Supply stopped pumping water from the aquifer that lies under the fuel tanks to prevent leaked fuel from getting into the municipal water system. The utility is searching for alternative water sources but the Pearl Harbor aquifer was its most productive as it provided about 20% of the water consumed in the city.

National News

FILE - Deborah Moody, an administrative clerk at the Alaska Division of Elections office in Anchora...

Associated Press

Alaska election officials to recalculate signatures for ranked vote repeal measure after court order

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A state court judge on Friday disqualified numerous booklets used to gather signatures for an initiative that aims to repeal Alaska’s ranked choice voting system and gave elections officials a deadline to determine if the measure still had sufficient signatures to qualify for the November ballot. The decision by Superior Court […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

UN approves more transparent procedures for people and entities to get off its sanctions lists

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations Security Council unanimously approved more transparent procedures Friday for the hundreds of individuals, companies and other entities who are subject to U.N. sanctions and want to get off the blacklists. The resolution, co-sponsored by Malta and the United States, also authorizes the establishment of a new informal working […]

3 hours ago

FILE - Rep. Shelia Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaks during a House Judiciary Committee meeting, Dec. 13...

Associated Press

Longtime US Rep Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who had pancreatic cancer, has died

Longtime U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, who helped lead federal efforts to protect women from domestic violence and recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday, has died. She was 74. Lillie Conley, her chief of staff, confirmed Friday night that Jackson Lee, who had pancreatic cancer, had died. The Democrat had represented her Houston-based […]

3 hours ago

Stools line the bar at Elwood's Liquor and Tap on Thursday, July 18, 2024 in Milwaukee, Wis. This w...

Associated Press

Outside the RNC, small Milwaukee businesses and their regulars tried to salvage a sluggish week

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jay Nelson was standing outside the convenience store he manages in downtown Milwaukee when one of his regular customers walked by on her daily stroll around the neighborhood. “I’ve been telling people to come and buy even just a bottle of wine,” she said, stretching out her arms. “I hope it helps.” […]

3 hours ago

Descendants of Nelson Bell, brothers Milford Fonza, front left, and Elmer Fonza, front right, surro...

Associated Press

In a California gold rush town, some Black families are fighting for land taken from their ancestors

COLOMA, Calif. (AP) — In a tiny town where the California gold rush began, Black families are seeking restitution for land that was taken from their ancestors to make way for a state park now frequented by fourth graders learning about the state’s history. Their efforts in Coloma, a town of around 300 people that’s […]

3 hours ago

An image of President Joe Biden is projected on a screen during the final night of the 2024 Republi...

Associated Press

Biden’s ability to win back skeptical Democrats tested at a perilous moment for his campaign

WASHINGTON (AP) — Despite a week of campaign stops, interviews and a determined insistence he is the best candidate to confront Republican Donald Trump, President Joe Biden’s efforts to revive his reelection bid and win over skeptical Democrats have done little to soften the push for him to exit the 2024 race. Biden has weighty […]

3 hours ago

US military drains fuel from tank facility that leaked fuel into Pearl Harbor’s drinking water