DOH grants permit to Navy to remove fuel contamination from Red Hill Shaft

Posted on Jan 27, 2022 in Navy Water System Incident, Newsroom

HONOLULU – The Hawaiʻi Department of Health (DOH) today authorized the Navy to begin discharging treated water from the Red Hill Shaft to remove contamination from the freshwater aquifer under the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The Navy plans to extract contaminated water from the Red Hill Shaft for treatment to remove fuel contamination before water is released into Halawa Stream. The discharge is authorized under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit.

The Navy will begin pumping water from its Red Hill Shaft into a hybrid zeolite-granular activated carbon treatment system that is designed to remove fuel or its degraded constituents from the extracted water.

The NPDES permit allows the discharge of five million gallons of treated water a day into Halawa Stream in compliance with discharge limitations and monitoring requirements set forth in the permit and Red Hill Shaft Recovery and Monitoring Plan. 

Pumping water from the Red Hill Shaft into the treatment system, then into Halawa Stream is a critical part of the response. It’s important to pump contaminated water out of the Red Hill Shaft so that it doesn’t migrate to other parts of the groundwater aquifer.

“There is an urgency to remove contamination from the Navy’s Red Hill Shaft,” said Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho. “DOH is authorizing the Navy to begin pumping and treating water from the Red Hill Shaft to prevent contamination from spreading throughout the aquifer. DOH staff will conduct oversight and ensure that actions are protective of human health and the environment.”

The Navy is required to install field monitoring devices to screen for contaminants in real time at each step of the treatment process. If contaminant levels exceed acceptable limits at any point, operations will be stopped. DOH also consulted with the Department of Land and Natural Resources to minimize impacts to plants and wildlife.

Click here to download a copy of the permit. The permit was approved following the Interagency Drinking Water System Team’s approval of the Red Hill Shaft Recovery and Monitoring Plan. The discharge is authorized under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit, issued under Hawaii Administrative Rule, Chapter 11-55, Appendix D.

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PDF: DOH grants permit to Navy to remove fuel contamination from Red Hill Shaft