HONOLULU – Rear Adm. John F. G. Wade assumed command of Joint Task Force Red Hill on Sept. 30, the new Department of Defense organization responsible for the safe and expeditious defueling of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
“For the past several weeks, our team has been hard at work planning for defueling and collaborating with partners in the Department of Defense, the Hawaii Department of Health, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” Wade said. “With today’s announcement by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Joint Task Force Red Hill will commence our mission to safely and expeditiously defuel the Red Hill facility while taking every measure to protect the delicate environment of Hawaii and ensure the land and water remains safe for generations to come.”
Reaching today’s milestone was a conditions-based determination made by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, who visited the Red Hill facility today. The Secretary also met with state and local officials as well as families impacted by the Red Hill fuel release to listen to their concerns and to discuss the defueling effort.
“Defueling and closing Red Hill is the right thing to do – for our service members, our families, the people of Hawaii, the environment, and our nation,” said Secretary Austin. “We are moving out and will defuel this facility as quickly and safely as possible. I am confident that Rear Adm. Wade will effectively lead this important effort and that he will work closely with the Hawaii Department of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the community.”
Following today’s visit, the Secretary selected U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michelle Link as Joint Task Force Red Hill’s Deputy Commander and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Lance Okamura as the Strategic Engagement Lead.
“I am excited to have these senior leaders joining our team, and I understand the critical role Joint Task Force Red Hill must play in rebuilding trust with local communities – both military and civilian,” Wade said. “Our highest priority is to safely mitigate risks to both our families and the land on the expeditious schedule the people of Hawaii expect from us.”
Responsibility for the eventual shutdown of the Red Hill facility will remain with the Department of the Navy, which will take place after defueling operations are complete.
Joint Task Force Red Hill was established by the Secretary of Defense to ensure the safe and expeditious defueling of the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The Task Force will conduct necessary maintenance and repairs to the facility’s infrastructure and work with State and Federal regulators, local communities and other stakeholders to set conditions for closure while rebuilding trust with the State of Hawaiʻi and the local community of Oʻahu.