Hawaii Fines Navy $325K For Fuel Storage Facility Violations

HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii on Wednesday said it was fining the U.S. Navy more than $325,000 for operations and maintenance violations at a massive underground fuel storage facility on Oahu.

The state Department of Health said in a news release the fines resulted from inspections it undertook of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in September and October last year.

Navy Region Hawaii said in a statement it was just notified of the fines and was reviewing the notice. It said it hadn't received the Department of Health’s inspection report even though it had been told it would be ready by January of this year.

“The Navy remains committed to maintaining safety in all operations of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and to timely communication with state and federal regulators,” the statement said.

News of the fines comes one day after the Navy said operator error caused it to release 1,618 gallons (6,125 liters) of jet fuel from a pipeline at the Red Hill fuel tank storage facility in May.

The Red Hill facility holds 20 underground fuel storage tanks near Pearl Harbor, providing the Navy with a crucial fuel reserve in the Pacific.

But the tanks, which date to World War II and are each the equivalent of about 25 stories tall, also sit above an aquifer that supplies a quarter of the water consumed in urban Honolulu. A 2014 leak from one of the aging tanks generated concerns the facility could contaminate one of Oahu’s most important water sources.

More than half the fine — $179,982 — resulted from the Navy’s failure to perform line tightness testing of repaired piping before returning the pipes to service, the Department of Health said.

Failure to maintain adequate release detection for two double-walled underground product recovery storage tanks resulted in a $90,000 penalty.

There was a smaller penalty for failing to operate and maintain corrosion protection for metal components of tank and metal piping.

The Department of Health regulates underground storage tanks in the state under the authorization of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.