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Navy faces $1.2 billion claim over Red Hill damages

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(The Center Square) – Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply is seeking $1.2 billion from the U.S. Navy for costs associated with the fuel leak at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility nearly two years ago.

The BWS said in a news release the claim is the first step to recovering costs incurred because of the leak. The claim was filed under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

“As a result of the Navy’s November 2021 fuel release at Red Hill and the ensuing drinking water contamination crisis, the BWS had no choice but to shut down its Halawa Shaft as well as certain Aiea and Halawa drinking water wells to prevent fuel contamination from entering the BWS’ own water distribution system,” the board said. “In addition to shutting down these drinking water sources, the BWS has been forced to implement enhanced water quality testing and protocols, install additional groundwater monitoring wells, temporarily increase its reliance upon other water sources to replace the lost water production, develop alternate water supply wells to make up for the lost water production, and evaluate drinking water treatment technology.”

The Hawaii Department of Health ordered the Navy to shutter the facility in March.

The Navy began the process last month. Twenty tanks located 100 feet underground through a series of pipelines that run through three miles of tunnels are being drained, according to the Department of Defense. About 104 million gallons of fuel will be removed. The estimated completion time for draining the tanks is mid-January, but the closure could take several years, according to the DOD.

Congress allotted $1.1 billion in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023 to fund the defueling.

The state’s congressional delegation is asking for $4 million to study the health outcomes of the affected residents.

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