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Defueling Information Sharing Forum (DISF) Meeting Notes, Tuesday, October 24, 2023

23-001 | Oct. 30, 2023

The meeting agenda consisted of the following:

  •  Welcome & Introductions
  •  Opening Comments
  •  Defueling Update
  •  IMS; Gravity Defueling Update; Residual Fuel & Sludge Analysis
  •  Answer Last Meeting's Due Outs
  •  Open Discussion & Dialogue
  •  Summarize Key Take-Aways / New Due Outs
  •  Next Meeting Date & Time, Location
  •  Closing Remarks

Key areas of discussion consisted of the following:

Welcome: BG Okamura welcomed and thanked DISF members for their continued support. He also expressed sincere gratitude for their feedback and the time that they have dedicated to supporting the Defueling Information Sharing Forum. BG Okamura highlighted the presence of RDML Steve Barnett of Navy Region-Hawaii and of CAPT James Sullivan of Navy Facilities Engineering Systems Command-Hawaii since they are key members of the US Navy with whom DISF members will be engaging with in the future. He then turned the floor over to the Commander of JTF-RH, VADM Wade.

Opening Comments and Defueling Update: VADM Wade thanked the DISF members and emphasized that the JTF has commenced gravity defueling. At the time of the DISF meeting, the JTF had defueled 27.6 million gallons of fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF). VADM Wade then informed the DISF members that during the start-up procedures for defueling operations on Monday, October 16, 2023, JTF-RH monitors identified a minor leak from a control valve in the Underground Pump House, which is approximately 3 miles from the Red Hill tanks and outside the underground injection control line. JTF-RH personnel immediately isolated the valve and the 1 gallon of fuel that leaked was collected in absorbent pads located under the valve. There was no release to the environment, and at no time was there a threat to Red Hill personnel, the community, the aquifer or drinking water. System integrity was completely restored, and collected fuel was disposed of in accordance with state and federal regulations. Hawaii Department of Health (DOH) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) personnel were on scene, documentation of the event was submitted to these regulatory agencies per the approved Defueling Plan. DOH and EPA then provided approval for JTF-RH to continue with defueling operations.

VADM Wade then gave the DISF members an overview of where JTF is in the defueling process using the Integrated Master Schedule (IMS). VADM Wade stated that his commitment is to stay on plan and within all safety parameters, and, where possible, work with the regulators to find efficiencies and defuel faster. JTF will update the DISF, the community, state and local leaders, and the media of any changes to the defueling schedule.

VADM Wade then transitioned to providing the DISF members an update on the residual fuel and sludge that will remain in the facility following gravity defueling. There will be approximately 64,000 gallons of residual fuel and approximately 28,000 gallons of sludge remaining. VADM Wade then highlighted where in the facility the residual fuel and sludge would be, and the different methods of removing it. He also highlighted that the majority of residual fuel will be removed during defueling, but approximately 4,000 gallons of residual fuel and the 28,000 gallons of sludge would be removed during closure given the amount of time and additional environmental requirements. He then emphasized Defueling Supplement #3 will codify the details of who will be responsible for what. He also noted Defueling Supplement #3 will highlight the conditions and requirements for transition of responsibility of the RHBFSF from the JTF to the Department of the Navy (DON). It is expected that Defueling Supplement #3 will be released in mid-November, 2023, by the Department of Defense. Assuming that the Supplement is released as projected, the JTF-RH and CNRH will brief at the Fuel Tank Advisory Committee (FTAC) to provide the community with details of the plan moving forward.

A DISF member asked about the timeline for the removal of the 64,000 gallons of residual fuel. VADM Wade answered that the removal of the first 60,000 gallons will take place between the end of January and the end of March. He then explained the process that the JTF went through to identify the locations of the residual fuel and the procedures that will be utilized to remove the fuel. These are the same processes and procedures previously used for pockets of fuel that were found during the repair phase. A follow-up question was then asked about a previous repair where additional HAZMAT work was required. BG Link explained that during pre-defueling facility preparation, there was a repair that required the removal of residual fuel due to sagging in the line. That repair required lead abatement, and the removal of that section of the pipe so it could be properly repaired. BG Link then discussed the process of removing and repairing the pipe.

Additional discussion between DISF members and BG Link continued to clarify the sequencing of operations to remove fuel from the system through gravity defueling, and the processes for removing residual fuel and sludge. DISF members highlighted that the graphic used to explain residual fuel and sludge was not clear. VADM Wade and BG Link expressed their gratitude for the feedback and acknowledged that they both are so familiar with the information that having another set of eyes review and say it needs to be more clear and understandable is helpful, and reflects the value of the DISF.

Discussion continued with a question on where the residual fuel would go when removed from the system. BG Link explained that the residual fuel removed from the system will be disposed by the contractor that removes it in accordance with the contract specifications, along with federal and state environmental regulations. DISF members recommended sharing with them and the community where the residual fuel and sludge will be disposed, as they are concerned about where the residual fuel and sludge will go.

A DISF member asked if the JTF would be able to share the Defueling Supplement #3 with them and the public. VADM Wade explained that the document and all available documents would be shared with the regulators, the DISF, and the public once approved by the Department of Defense.

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

Open Dialogue: A DISF member asked about a news article that was recently published which spoke about defueling, OSHA, and the safety of the workers at the RHBFSF. VADM Wade responded that the news article related to a community member who had concerns regarding egress points, egress procedures and firefighting training, and filed an OSHA complaint. OSHA sent JTF-RH a letter and required an answer by October 18th. On October 18th JTF-RH provided OSHA with information about its safety program and procedures that addressed the concerns. OSHA responded to JTF-RH the same day stating that, based on the information provided, the complaint would be closed. BG Link provided additional information on the facility, how it is in compliance with DoD personnel safety standards, and described the many safety measures in place at the facility.

A DISF member highlighted that there are currently three elements that have equities in the mission. The DoD, the community, and the regulators. The DISF member wondered if, under closure, there will be a different model to bring all the parties together. VADM Wade highlighted how the DoD, through the JTF, has actively engaged the community and regulators, and this will continue when the Navy eventually takes on the lead role for closure and long-term environmental remediation.

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.

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