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Release
Immediate Release

Statement from Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks on Red Hill

Jan. 31, 2022

Today, I spoke with Governor David Ige and his team regarding Red Hill. As I discussed with the Governor, the Secretary and I—along with our team at the Department of Defense and the U.S. Navy—remain laser-focused on addressing the Red Hill situation. Our efforts are consistent with the Biden Administration's dedication to caring for the health and safety of the people of Hawaii and protecting the environment. We continue to take actions to address the November release and contamination, including the restoration of safe drinking water. And we have launched a thorough review of the facility's long-term future, to include the option of permanently defueling Red Hill. We will continue to do everything that we can to protect the population, the environment, and the security of the nation. We are confident these goals are mutually supportive and can coexist.  

We discussed how we can work together through some pending legal matters. First, it's important to note that we continue to take actions consistent with the near-term provisions of the Department of Health's (DOH) Emergency Order. This includes, but is not limited to, suspending operations of fuel transfers at Red Hill, implementing a thorough series of best-in-class testing and sampling protocols, and installing new equipment to treat and protect Oahu's water resources. And, as required by the Emergency Order, by this Wednesday, February 2, 2022, we will submit to the Hawaii Department of Health a work plan and implementation schedule for a qualified, independent third party commercial firm to assess the facility operations and system integrity necessary to safely operate and/or defuel Red Hill. The period of work for this assessment will end on April 30, 2022. We understand the importance of transparency as we continue these near-term efforts.   

As to the long-term future of Red Hill, we are on an aggressive schedule to analyze and determine the distribution of fuel reserves for our operations in the Pacific theater. Separate from the independent third party assessment, this analysis by the Department of Defense will be completed within sixty days to enable the Secretary of Defense to make a decision on the role of Red Hill moving forward.  

However, as we discussed with the Governor, we have a deadline of this Wednesday, February 2, 2022, to file an appeal of DOH's Final Order, and we are planning to file in both federal and state court by this deadline. This will afford us time to make evidence-based and transparent decisions. Despite these legal process requirements, we hope to collaborate with the State of Hawaii in a way that would allow the parties the time and space needed to reach solutions together. We proposed options for how this might work in an effort to find a mutually agreeable path forward, and we look forward to continuing our dialogue with the Governor, the Attorney General and the Hawaii Department of Health.

We know the importance of getting this right for the people of Hawaii, our Service Members, and our military families. We are taking this seriously, and the Secretary has prioritized resources from across the Department to effectively and efficiently take the steps required to address this problem.

We are grateful for the Governor and his team's time and the thoughtful discussion today. We will work closely with our partners and outside agencies to ensure we have the best information to make responsible choices that protect the health and safety of the people of Hawaii and the nation's security.