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Immediate Release

DoD Begins Defueling Red Hill Ahead of Schedule

Today, the Department of Defense begins defueling operations at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF) at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“The Department of Defense has worked closely with the Hawaii Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure we are good stewards of the environment as we work toward the timely and safe closure of Red Hill,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. “Beginning the defueling process earlier than initially planned is a testament to the Department’s commitment to safeguarding the aquifer and protecting the health of the people in Hawaii.”

Led by Joint Task Force-Red Hill (JTF-Red Hill), the Department will gravity drain and remove approximately 104 million gallons of fuel stored in the facility using pipelines that run through roughly three miles of tunnels to a pier located at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. Fuel removed from the facility will be loaded onto tanker ships and transported to existing Defense Fuel Support Points.  The defueling plans have been closely coordinated with and approved by the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The gravity defueling process will take approximately three months with completion set for mid-January 2024.

“After months of planning, preparing and rehearsing, we are ready to begin defueling Red Hill and set the conditions for its closure,” said Vice Adm. John Wade, JTF-Red Hill Commander. “We listened to the community and have taken significant precautions to mitigate risk and protect the aquifer and the environment as we safely and expeditiously defuel the facility.”

The Department was originally expected to begin gravity defueling in 2024, but through an iterative deliberate process in coordination with the DOH and the EPA, identified efficiencies that allowed DoD to accelerate the timeline.

"Protecting Oahu’s aquifer is essential to ensuring safe drinking water for the people of Hawaii,” said EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe. “Throughout this process, EPA has worked with the DOD, JTF- Red Hill, the state of Hawaii, community members, and critical stakeholders to develop practical solutions that are leading to real environmental results and vital public health benefits. We are very pleased to be at this point, and I am confident this cooperation and EPA’s oversight will help ensure the safe defueling and ultimate closure of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and protection of the area’s drinking water."

The RHBFSF was constructed in the early 1940s to provide fuel storage for the US military during World War II. The facility includes 20 tanks and can hold up to 250 million gallons of fuel located 100 feet underground.

The Secretary of Defense committed to the permanent closure of the facility in March 2022. In August, the Department notified Congress that defueling the RHBFSF would not adversely affect the ability of the Department to provide fuel to support military operations. Once defueling is complete, closure activities will begin. The precise manner and timing of closure-related activities are reflected in detailed closure plans and supplements that are approved by both DOH and EPA. Closure is expected to take several years.  

Additionally, the Defense Health Agency (DHA), in concert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, continues to provide health care for the military families and residents impacted by the incident.

DoD will continue to work closely with DOH and EPA to comprehensively address all actions necessary to ensure the safe and expeditious removal of all fuel from the RHBFSF.

For more information about JTF-Red Hill, visit or download the App by searching for “JTF–Red Hill” in the Apple App store or Google Play store.