Top left banner Top right banner
Bottom left banner Bottom right banner

Defueling Information Sharing Forum (DISF) Meeting Notes

23-001 | Sept. 2, 2023

Honolulu —

The meeting agenda consisted of the following: 

 Welcome / Introduction of New Members
 Opening Remarks
 NEPA Update
 Defueling Update
 Rebuilding Trust Update
 Review Last Meetings Due-outs 

Key areas of discussion consisted of the following: 

 Welcome / Introduction of New Members: BG Okamura welcomed and thanked DISF members for their continued support. He also expressed sincere gratitude for their feedback and the time that they spent with him over the past month conducting 1-on-1 discussions in preparation for this DISF meeting. Further, Rep. Nicole Lowen (House District 7; Co-Chair of the House Special Committee on Red Hill and Chair of the Committee on Energy and Environment) and Capsun Poe (New representative of the 
Office of Hawaiian Affairs) were formally introduced as new members. Lastly, BG Okamura introduced attendees sitting in for DISF members and the members of the US Navy, specifically Navy Region Hawaii and Navy Facilities and Engineering Systems Command-Hawaii, who were attending the DISF meeting.

Opening Comments: BG Link thanked the members on behalf of VADM Wade (attending son’s wedding) for their continued support and expressed condolences for the people of Maui and for those friends and family members of the attendees who may have been affected by the fires. She then highlighted the amount of activity that has been going on over the last few months to set the conditions for repacking, and ultimately, defueling operations. 

 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Update: CAPT Abramson highlighted that the NEPA process was nearing completion. A total of 29 substantive comments were received from the public. All comments will be addressed in the EA (Appendix A) when it is published. CAPT Abramson stated that the JTF anticipates the EA and the decision document to be signed on August 28, 2023 and to publish on September 1, 2023. He conveyed that during the process the NEPA team consulted with the 
National Marine Fisheries Service and the State of Hawaii Office of Planning and Sustainable Development. Additionally, the JTF consulted under the Clean Air Act.

One DISF member asked if we anticipated any issues at this point and whether we send formal responses back to the commenters? CAPT Abramson responded that based on the public comments received and the JTF’s ability to address all of those question in the EA, we didn’t anticipate any litigation or other issues from the EA or decision document. Additionally, he stated that we don’t respond directly to the commenters, but their comments will be addressed in Appendix A of the EA and will be made public for their review. 

 Defueling Update: BG Link provided the DISF with an update on the status of defueling milestones using the Integrated Master Schedule. The key message was that the JTF remains ON PLAN to commence gravity defueling on October 16, 2023. She also highlighted that the training of 70 new personnel for roving security and fire watch duties is complete and that 24/7 surveillance in the Red Hill facility will commence on 28 August, 2023 and would continue through the completion of gravity 
defueling operations.

 BG Link then provided an overview of the next major milestone – Repacking. She stated that the purpose of repacking is to fill the lines with fuel and remove the air. JTF is going to push fuel up from JBPHH, deliberately in phases to ensure that we are safely executing this evolution. This process also allows us to quickly reverse the flow of fuel back to the tank farm on JBPHH if we identify an issue that needs to monitor equipment status and address any issues if required. BG Link then provided a detailed overview of the process and timeline for all actions that will be taken, how we will man the facility, and the steps taken to mitigate any issues that could potentially occur during the process. She then addressed questions from DISF members on the engineering that went into the process of equalizing the pressure in the system, removing air from the system, and the monitoring of the system that will be in place during the process. 

 A DISF member asked about the window of time on the integrated master schedule highlighting unforeseen repairs and maintenance and what that was for? BG Link explained that the system has not had fuel in it for almost a year and that when we repack the lines it is possible that there will be minor repairs and maintenance that will need to be conducted. BG Link also highlighted all other actions the JTF must take between repacking and the start of gravity defueling to include: one additive modification, continued training and rehearsals, pre-Defueling maintenance and testing, mandatory regulatory walk-thru’s, unconditional regulatory approvals, regulator mandated public engagements, etc. A follow-up question from the member was whether this timeline and all the requirements were available to the public. BG Link confirmed that this information is indeed on the website, and on our app. Further, she noted that this information is regularly communicated at all engagements, briefings and media interviews. 

 A DISF member then asked if there was a plan that would be produced and shared at a later date that would show the order or sequence in which tanks would be defueled? BG Link answered that the plan to defuel the tanks will be updated as the schedule of tankers is refined. She then stated that we have a firm commitment on tankers, but unfortunately it’s not as simple as one tank for one tanker, so we will continuously be refining the sequence of tanks being drained based on which tanker is coming to port, the type of fuel being relocated and the location it’s being relocated too. 

 BG Link then went through the steps that the JTF has taken to mitigate risk during defueling operations. She stated that this is a multi-dimensional approach to build resiliency in the system. This is laid out in a critical path method in our schedule to achieve the end state of removing the fuel from the facility. The approach covers six facets of risk mitigation: Plans and Operations; Training; Repairs, Enhancements, and Modifications; Testing; Quality and Safety; and Fuel Operations. In each of these buckets there are multiple efforts that have been taken to reduce risk. Training the roving security and fire watch teams, coordinating with Federal Fire for response exercises, conducting the 253 repairs and additional incremental repairs, testing all of the repairs and welds in the system, tank tightness testing, and repacking itself is a test of the system as a whole. Quality assurance and validation of repairs and actions in the facility, identifying intrinsically safe equipment for use in the facility, and refinement of the process of developing operations orders (OPORDs) and maintenance orders, conducting rehearsals, and drills. BG Link then answered questions from DISF members regarding testing the system and the repairs, the pressures used for testing, and on the meaning and purposes of OPORDs. 

 Next, BG Link covered the response preparedness and aquifer protection measures taken by the JTF. She outlined that over 400 protective measures have been taken to safeguard the aquifer and ensure that the team is prepared to respond in the event of an incident. Additionally, she answered multiple questions from DISF members on the different protective measures, the personnel in the facility and their equipment, the scenarios that the team trained against to be prepared for defueling, and the processes and procedures that will be taken to protect the environment. Finally, BG Link and BG Okamura addressed questions and comments on sharing information about defueling and efforts taken to protect the environment with the community. The Generals highlighted that the media is being invited to observe the protective measures, the JTF will hold an additional Defueling Open House to share information with community, and that VADM Wade will conduct interviews with media outlets prior to starting defueling on October 16, 2023. 

Lastly, BG Link provided an update on residual fuel that will remain in RHBFSF at the conclusion of gravity defueling. While Defueling Supplement 2 estimated that a range between 100K and 400K gallons remain in low point drains, bends, traverse piping, sags within the pipes, etc., the ensuing survey and continued mission analysis has refined this estimate to be on the lower end at approximately 100K gallons. BG Link reiterated DoD’s commitment to get every last drop of fuel out of the facility, and that we are working the details and will provide DOH, EPA and the public an additional supplement that will comprehensively address the actions necessary to do so. While EPA has mandated that we provide this supplement by 31 December, 2023, our goal is to publish it sometime in November. BG Link concluded that we will keep the DISF informed as we continue the planning. 

 Transition: DISF members then centered their attention to transition between the JTF and Navy. Several members stressed that an effective turnover and how it’s communicated will be critical given the lack of trust the community has for the Navy at present. Specific questions received were: When will the JTF stand down?; What is the timeline for the transition?; Who will be responsible for the removal of residual fuel?; How will the transition between JTF and the Navy take place?; What are the conditions for transition?; How will the Navy Task Force be organized?; Who will the Navy Task Force report to?; Will all JTF safety measures implemented, as well as community engagements and messaging, continue with the Navy Task Force?; and, Who will be overall responsible for the Navy effort – Navy Task Force Commander, Navy Region, PACFLT? BG Link informed DISF members that detailed transition planning is currently ongoing between the Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, the Department of the Navy and JTF-RH. While specific answers were not provided to ensure decision space for SECDEF, BG Link assured everyone that a meticulous and disciplined approach is being taken, and that all JTF processes and procedures established are being fully evaluated for continuation – especially those that enhance safety and security or rebuild trust – to ensure continuity of mission. BG Link concluded by saying that the transition plan would be communicated with the DISF, elected officials, and regulators prior to any public announcements. She also committed to providing another transition update at the next DISF meeting in October. 

 Rebuilding Trust: BG Okamura highlighted that while specific transition decisions have not yet been made by the Secretary of Defense, the DoD acknowledges the importance of active communication and compassionate listening to the community. To that end, Navy Region will begin accompanying JTF-RH during our future community engagements. Purpose is to observe our processes and build or further relationships with the community interlocutors we have established relationships with. He also stated that Admiral Barnett is fully committed to continuing the rebuilding trust endeavors that JTF-RH has built over the last several months. Lastly, BG Okamura highlighted the evolution of the DISF and how the Navy will become a more active participant in future meetings to provide updates and obtain critical community feedback. DISF members appreciated the update and look forward to additional transition updates at future meetings. 

Last Meetings Due Outs/Questions: BG Link, and BG Okamura highlighted and addressed the due outs from the last DISF Meeting.

This is the record of the DISF meeting. These statements are the result of many perspectives and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Defense.

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

  • JTF-RH Public Affairs
  • Cell: (808) 501-8320

JTF Red Hill Menu