I served 29 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves.

The 20 storage tanks holding 187 million gallons of jet fuel embedded deep in Red Hill and only 100 feet above the Honolulu water supply have served the U.S. military 75 years — more than twice as long as I did.

I’m 72 years old and have had the normal number of aches and pains including a hip replacement and skin cancer.

The 20-story jet fuel storage tanks also have had aches and pains as well as its skin is getting thinner and thinner due to 75 years of corrosion — that skin is as thin as the edge of a dime in some places.

Board of Water Supply Ernest Lau points to areas near the Navy's 20 fuel tanks below Red Hill by the black dot looking things below his left hand during EPA teleconferenced meeting with the BWS board. 28 june 2016
The Board of Water Supply’s Ernest Lau pointed to areas near the Navy’s 20 fuel tanks below Red Hill during an EPA teleconference meeting in 2016. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

My hip replacement didn’t turn out the best with my leg ending up one-half inch shorter than anticipated, and skin cancer surgery has left patches on my face, head and leg.

Patching of the thin skin of the Red Hill jet fuel tanks didn’t turn out so well either, with the welding on one of the patches giving way and 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaking out of the tanks, jeopardizing the Honolulu aquifer.

Those of us in our 70s know all about leaks — it’s a hazard of age.

I retired from the U.S. Army after 29 years.

After 75 years of service, it’s time to retire the Red Hill Storage tanks — and protect our precious water supply.

Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author