WASHINGTON -- Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III convened senior Department leaders yesterday for an update on efforts to safely and expeditiously defuel and permanently close the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The Secretary emphasized the need to continue health response efforts to protect and ensure the health of military families affected by the November 2021 water contamination. The meeting included the Secretary of the Navy, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Chief of Naval Operations, INDOPACOM Commander, Joint Task Force Red Hill commander Rear Admiral John Wade, and other senior leaders.
Rear Admiral Wade briefed Secretary Austin that defueling unpacking operations will begin this week and that the Joint Task Force is on schedule. During the meeting, the Secretary relayed his confidence that the Joint Task Force Red Hill will continue to focus on protecting the population and the environment throughout the defueling process. The Secretary emphasized that Department of Defense remains committed to the health and safety of our military families and the people of Hawaii.
Secretary Austin visited the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on September 30 to receive an update from Rear Admiral Wade, who is in command of a more than one hundred person Joint Task Force charged with the defueling effort of the facility. Joint Task Force Red Hill continues to work closely with the Hawaii Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency on the planning and implementation of the defueling process. Once the Joint Task Force Red Hill has completed its defueling efforts, the Department of the Navy will work with the Hawaii Department of Health and the EPA to close the facility. The Navy will be submitting a closure plan for the Red Hill Facility no later than November 1, 2022 to the Hawaii Department of Health.