An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

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


TRANSCRIPT | Nov. 9, 2022

Rear Admiral Wade Fuel Tank Advisory Committee Opening Remarks

Fuel Tank Advisory Committee Slides: Fuel Tank Advisory Committee Slides

Rear Admiral John Wade: Thank you so much. And to everyone online here and at the State House, thank you so much for allowing me to present today. I am the commander of Joint Task Force-Red Hill; we were established on the 30th of September. And my mission is to safely and expeditiously defuel the Red Hill complex. As the SECDEF said, defueling is the right thing to do for the people of Hawaii, for our community and for the environment, and also for national security. One thing that’ll come out in my slides here is that I’m singularly focused on this mission and this mission will set the conditions for closure. I am committed to work tirelessly on this effort of defueling, but I also understand that everything we do for defueling impacts all other aspects of the Red Hill problem set. So I am absolutely committed to coordinate and collaborate with all the other interagency partners, stakeholders, other members of the DoD to get this right. And then lastly, throughout the entire mission, transparency is absolutely critical. In fact, I’ll highlight that that is one of the key missions from the SECDEF. He has tasked me and I will communicate with our elected officials to the community and through the media.

So, if we go to the next slide. I have four slides in the presentation, so essentially what I’m going to do is highlight the mission and what the end-state is from my order. I’ll then go through the organizational design of the team. I’ll then briefly go over the defueling plan and then give a timeline, and then give time back here to answer questions.
So, this slide is just a cut and paste from the mission I’ve been given and the end state from the Secretary of Defense. And there’s two highlights and takeaways that I want you to come away with this slide from. First of all, on the defueling aspect, we will be methodical and deliberate; we will act with precision. My goal is not one drop entering into the aquifer. And then on the up and out or rebuilding trust piece, actions are what counts here. Words, although important, will not rebuild the trust; its one day, one action at a time and I’m committed to that. But I am obligated to listen, and I’m obligated to inform what we are doing and why…where we are with our milestones. Tell you where we are doing well, but also tell you where we are not. And that’s my commitment to all of you.

Next slide please. So, this is our organizational structure. So, before I go into it let me just give you a critical piece to this. The JTF, this task force, was deliberately created by the SECDEF and the purpose here is to instill new leadership for the most important mission, which is to remove the threat…the fuel from above the aquifer. Secondly, the organizational structure is informed and is responsive to the investigations for the May and November spills. So, in other words we’ve culled the lessons learned and built that into our designs and the functions that we are doing. So, getting to the slide, the very top, I report to the SECDEF through Commander USINDOPACOM. I am in the middle there. Directly below me are two general officers, not Navy. Army. The Deputy Commander is an Army Corps of Engineer, a professional engineer. And she will be focused on the technical aspects of the mission, the project management and she’ll be working with the functional areas that are listed below. The other general officer will be focused on the up and out, the strategic engagement with our interagency partners, with our elected officials, with our community, with the media and that general is from Hawaii…from the Army National Guard. He just relinquished command of Joint Force GITMO in Cuba and is on his way here. He should be here within the next couple of weeks.

If you go up just a little bit right next to me the JTF Red Hill you see the Commander’s Oversight Group. This group will advise me on all regulatory and legal matters and coordinate external communications. So, you see there’s safety, there’s public affairs, there’s legislative affairs, community relations. And an important piece is ensuring we have comptroller and audit to account for every penny of this mission. And of course, the legal. And there’s multiple legal components here there’s environmental, there’s contractual, there’s a whole gambit so that’s critically important.

Now if you continue down, you’ll see a COS, that’s a Chief of Staff. A senior O-6 that provides oversight for key functional directorates which I’ll go into now. Again, informed from the investigations, they implored there has to be clear lines of authority. There has to be oversight focused on material readiness. Accurate procedures and then effective supervision. So you have planning, training and quality assurance, repairs, operations and then response. I’ll then move to the upper left. And then you see the two regulatory organizations. You see the Department of Health and the EPA. There isn’t a dotted line because they are not part of the task force. However, in order to conduct our mission, we must communicate and coordinate with these two regulatory organizations. They hold us to a standard by law, both federal and state. And we’ve established working procedures at the leadership level and at the staff level to get after this important mission.

Right below is a defueling information sharing forum. I will give a broad-brush overview of this in case you have any questions, but this is under development. What I have done is I’ve engaged with key members of the community plus also members who are either government or non-government officials who have expertise in different areas—think environment, military families, renewable energy, water, Native Hawaiian interests, and asked them to be a part of this information sharing forum to do a couple of things. First of all, they are there to receive regular updates and then inform their constituents and groups their peers; second is for their opportunity to give and share knowledge, insight, and expertise. They are very diverse members of the community. They see the world differently than the military and I think that adds value to this incredibly important mission. And then lastly this gives me and my team feedback. The last thing that I’ll just highlight is that I’m showing you the organizational structure for defueling. But we have established a process to coordinate with all other DoD entities that are involved in the Red Hill problem set to deconflict and coordinate and to share information because that’s absolutely critical, and you may have some questions on that and I’ll be happy to discuss at the end.

Next slide please. The defueling plan has been submitted in multiple plans to the Department of Health. First in June and then multiple supplements in September. They are accessible to the public. They are on the Department of Health website; the EPA has also posted them. They are also on my website.

There are five major phases: first is assessment, second is planning, third is initial preparation for defueling, final preparation and then defueling and relocating the fuel. I’ll go into that very briefly, but the first thing I want to highlight again is that we were created on the 30th of September. So, we fell in the plan that the Navy developed and submitted to the Department of Health. That plan is still not approved. Now taking ownership of the coordination with the DoH and EPA as we work to finalize that plan. The first phase assessment is complete. That is the green check mark. This assessment was mandated by the Hawaii Emergency Order and conducted by a third-party engineering firm to identify repairs, modifications and enhancements to reduce risk for defueling the facility safely. We are now at the very end of the planning phase and just starting phase three. We will work to get the plan approved, and we will conduct iterative planning in partnership with the DOH and the EPA to see if we can find ways to move the timeline or reduce the timeline to defueling earlier.

And the next slide I’ll show you what the current timeline is. That phase includes the repairs but also the training. And we are going to train hard, and we are going to rehearse. So that we are ready to execute this enormous and important mission. The final preparation will be making sure we double check and triple check that we are ready to go. And that everything is thumbs up from the EPA and DOH. And then phase five is the actual defueling.

Next slide please. And this is the defueling schedule as submitted in our last supplement of 28 September. Again I’d like to emphasize the callout box in the upper-right. This is pre-decisional still awaiting DOH approval, but the line that you see in the bar is 9 November. That’s today. And coming out of phase two which is planning. And moving well into phase three which is the initial preparation for defueling. Right now, we should be complete with repairs by January of 2024 then start defueling February of 24 and then complete with defueling by June of 2024.

Again, I’d like to just repeat again that I intend to work in partnership with the Department of Health and the EPA and other stakeholders to reduce the timeline safely, but in accordance with federal and state regulations and the areas that I believe that we can move the timeline left are in area three—that’s in the repairs. Can we apply new technologies? Can we work things in parallel vice series? Are there things that we can do to move faster? Again, within the proper safety parameters that are established by our regulatory partners. And then in five the defueling that is with a DoD stakeholder, the Defense Logistics Agency. And I’m working with them to reduce that timeline. It’s currently at four months I’m trying to reduce that even further.

Every day that the fuel sits upon the aquifer is a threat to our community and our environment, and I’m committed to try and make that timeline shorter. So, I’ll stop here to give more time to answer questions. And again, thank you for the opportunity to speak and again I look forward to the opportunity to work with each and every one of you.

Thank you.


JTF Red Hill Menu