A day after the Pentagon announced it plans to defuel and permanently close the Red Hill fuel facility, the Navy told the health department that it shouldn’t have to divulge information it was required to provide in its pursuit of a state permit.

In January, DOH ordered the Navy to hand over a long list of documents pertaining to the facility’s design, history of leaks, organizational leadership and contamination.

The Navy has shared some information in response to that order, including documents showing the Navy has had concerns about its Red Hill pipelines for years, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. However, the military asked for more time to produce the rest.

Red Hill well pipe will pump up to 5 million gallons of contaminated water to 8 tanks that contain granulated carbon to filter the contaminants and then be discharged into the Halawa Stream.
The Pentagon said it will permanently close and remove fuel from the Red Hill facility that services Pearl Harbor. The Navy said it now shouldn’t have to divulge information in pursuit of a state permit. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

In light of the Department of Defense’s announcement on Monday that it planned to decommission Red Hill, a Navy attorney is now asking DOH to pause contested case proceedings, including the “production of information,” according to a Navy motion.

“Denying the Navy’s motion would require the parties to continue investing time and resources to brief currently calendared motions and to produce and review documents and information that are no longer relevant to the proceeding,” Navy counsel Marnie Riddle wrote.

The Sierra Club objected to the Navy’s motion.

“The Navy’s motion would allow the Navy to avoid providing these and other documents and would deprive the Department of Health and the public from receiving critical information in a timely manner,” attorney David Kimo Frankel wrote in an opposition memo.

Besides, if the Navy intends to shut Red Hill down, it should withdraw its state permit application altogether, Frankel argued.

DOH’s hearing officer has not yet made a ruling on the Navy’s motion.

The Navy originally applied for a state permit to operate the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in 2019. The Sierra Club of Hawaii and the Honolulu Board of Water Supply challenged their application, which kicked off contested case proceedings. Last September, a Hawaii Department of Health hearing officer recommended granting the permit, under certain conditions.

However, after a whistleblower accused the Navy of providing false testimony in the proceeding, DOH reopened contested case proceedings to consider new evidence. Since then, the Navy admitted that it contaminated its drinking water supply with fuel.

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