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For Immediate Release
July 1, 2022

Board of Water Supply Statement on Navy's Investigative Report on Red Hill Fuel Contamination and Red Hill Defueling Report

HONOLULU – Below is the Board of Water Supply (BWS) Manager and Chief Engineer Ernest Lau’s statement on the Navy’s investigative report on Red Hill Fuel Contamination and the Navy’s defueling report.

“The BWS is disturbed, but not surprised, by the contents of the two documents released yesterday by the U.S. Navy regarding the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.  The Navy’s command investigation into the May and November 2021 fuel releases finally acknowledges that the tragic drinking water contamination crisis occurred as a result of the Navy’s ineffective responses to these fuel releases, failure to resolve deficiencies in the design and construction of the Red Hill facility, a lack of Navy knowledge, training and accountability, and a failure to learn from past mistakes.  For years, the BWS has been raising these very issues and warning of the imminent peril that the Red Hill facility poses to our drinking water.  Unfortunately, these pleas have largely gone unheeded and now our irreplaceable sole-source groundwater aquifer is contaminated, possibly irreparably.

“The Navy’s proposed defueling plan is equally disappointing.  Despite taking several months to prepare, the defueling plan is alarmingly devoid of detail.  Important information concerning the scope of the defueling work, the budget for accomplishing defueling, and the defueling schedule are simply missing.  Equally troubling, the Navy identifies December 31, 2024 as the earliest possible date by which it can defuel the Red Hill facility safely.  This is unacceptable, and the suggested timeline stands in stark contrast to repeated assurances from the Navy over the last several years that the Red Hill tanks and pipelines are properly designed, constructed and installed, that the facility meets or exceeds regulatory standards, and that each tank can be emptied in less than 24 hours.  Only now that defueling and permanent closure is imminent does the Navy claim that it will take over two years to defuel the Red Hill facility.  The BWS and its ratepayers cannot afford to wait that long.  While the BWS agrees that safety should be the primary concern regarding the defueling process, every moment that hundreds of millions of gallons of fuel remains in the Red Hill facility, the environment, the island’s irreplaceable sole-source aquifer, safe drinking water, and the health of the people of Oahu remain at risk.

“The defueling of the Red Hill facility calls for immediate action, complete transparency, and independent and impartial third-party scrutiny from now until the last drop of fuel is removed from the last tank.  That is the only way that we can assure that the Navy will honor its commitment to safely and expeditiously defuel the Red Hill facility and relocate the fuel away from Oahu’s irreplaceable aquifer to protect the purity of our drinking water for present and future generations.”

About the Board of Water Supply

The Board of Water Supply (BWS), a semi-autonomous agency of the City and County of Honolulu, manages Oahu’s municipal water resources and distribution system.  As the largest water utility in the State, the BWS serves approximately one million customers on Oahu.  The BWS embraces its mission of “Water for Life – Ka Wai Ola” – to provide a safe, dependable, and affordable water supply, now and into the future.  Uwē  ka lani, ola ka honua – “When the heavens weep, the earth lives.”  For more information, visit, follow @BWSHonolulu or like the BWS’s Facebook page at



Kathleen Elliott-Pahinui
Information Officer
Honolulu Board of Water Supply
Phone: (808) 748-5319