After fuel from the Navy’s Red Hill fuel storage facility leaked into the area’s drinking water, Hawaii lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban the permitting of such facilities near aquifers.

On Wednesday, two Hawaii Senate committees will discuss Senate Bill 2172, which would prohibit the Hawaii Department of Health from permitting underground fuel storage tanks within a half mile of an aquifer.

Senator Glenn Wakai speaks to media regarding the recent Red Hill water petroleum issue press conference held outside the HSTA headquarters near Red Hill.
Senator Glenn Wakai, a sponsor of the bill, has called the Navy’s water contamination a “man-made disaster.” Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2021

As written, the bill would disallow the issuance of new permits for those facilities as of July 1. As of Jan. 1, 2050, it would also prohibit the renewal of these permits and ban the operation of such fuel facilities entirely.

The bill would apply to any fuel tanks with a capacity of one hundred or more gallons installed underground.

The legislation, sponsored by Sens. Glenn Wakai, Kurt Fevella, Mike Gabbard and others, will be discussed at 1:10 p.m. on Wednesday in a virtual joint meeting of the Senate Committee on Health and the Committee on Agriculture and the Environment.

The preamble to the bill notes that fresh water is among Hawaii’s most important natural resources.

“The legislature further finds that the purity and safety of the State’s fresh water is in jeopardy of contamination,” it states.

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