A day after state and city officials revealed that high levels of diesel have been found in a water-monitoring well at Tripler Army Medical Center, Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell and top Navy officials responded to questions from reporters during a hastily prepared press conference.
The discovery of levels of diesel nearly eight times above the limit the state considers safe has exacerbated concerns that a major fuel leak in January at the Navy’s Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility could be migrating toward Oahu’s drinking water supply.
In January, some 27,000 gallons of jet fuel are believed to have leaked out of one of the 20 tanks.
The Navy took the samples at Tripler to gauge whether an underground fuel plume might be migrating southward toward county drinking water supplies.
Adm. Rick Williams and Capt. Mike Williamson fielded questions during the 20-minute conference. Ernie Lau, head of the Honolulu Board of Water Supply, was also in attendance.
Navy officials stressed that they are still investigating whether the diesel found in the Tripler monitoring well is indeed from the Red Hill leak. The Red Hill facility is a half mile from Tripler.
They also discussed the status of the leak investigation, which has been going on for nearly five months now.
The Navy says that next week it will begin its visual inspection of the tank that leaked.
Navy officials also discussed plans to drill more monitoring wells and implement better leak-detection and -monitoring technology at the 70-year-old facility.
You can listen to the full audio recording of the press conference below, courtesy of the mayor’s office.
You can read Civil Beat’s previous coverage of the Red Hill fuel leak here: