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December 13, 2021

Sierra Club Moves to Intervene to Stop Red Hill Fuel Leak Poisoning O‘ahu’s Drinking Water

Conservation group has fought for years to shut down Navy’s leaking fuel tanks


David Henkin, Earthjustice, (808) 599-2436,

Wayne Tanaka, Sierra Club, (808) 490-8579,

Honolulu, HI

Today, the Sierra Club, represented by Earthjustice, filed a motion to intervene in proceedings related to the State of Hawai‘i Department of Heath’s (“DOH’s”) December 6, 2021 emergency order requiring the U.S. Navy to remove fuel from its leaking Red Hill fuel tanks, which recently contaminated the drinking water supply for over 92,000 O‘ahu residents. For years, the Sierra Club has been urging closure of the Red Hill Facility to protect O‘ahu’s primary source of drinking water. The Sierra Club seeks to participate in the proceedings related to the emergency order to ensure that the Navy is finally held accountable for contaminating O‘ahu’s drinking water supply and to secure the orderly defueling and permanent closure of the Red Hill Facility.

“The water supply for tens of thousands of O‘ahu residents has already been poisoned, and hundreds of thousands of others continue to be at risk of similar harm,” said Wayne Tanaka, director of the Sierra Club’s Hawai‘i Chapter. “This avoidable catastrophe can only get much, much worse — and the only way to prevent that from happening is for the Department of Health to stick to its guns, and force the Navy to protect our irreplaceable drinking water supply from its 80-year-old, leaking fuel storage tanks.”

“While we welcome the Department of Health’s emergency order to shut down Red Hill, the agency has failed to stand up to the Navy in the past and protect O‘ahu’s drinking water. With the island’s aquifer at stake and our drinking water on the line, it’s clear the Navy must defuel and shut down the Red Hill Facility now, before more residents get sick,” said Earthjustice attorney David Henkin. “We seek to intervene to ensure that the Department of Health does not, once again, let the Navy off the hook with half-measures that have proved inadequate to protect the health and safety of O‘ahu’s people.”

An aerial shot of O‘ahu, where the Navy's Red Hill fuel tanks recently contaminated the drinking water supply for over 92,000 residents.

BirdsEyePix / CC BY-SA 2.0

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