Red Hill press conference airs community concerns

Concerned residents and elected officials call for drinking water resources to be better protected from fuel leaks

Residents and elected officials concerned about the leaks from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility held a press conference today at 5:30 PM in the parking lot at Moanalua Middle School. Participants included Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi, veteran Jennifer Rachels, State Senators Glenn Wakai and Breene Harimoto, State Representatives Aaron Johanson and Linda Ichiyama, and Honolulu Councilmembers Carol Fukunaga and Brandon Elefante.

The Sierra Club says that the purpose of the press conference was to reiterate the public’s concern for future drinking water resources ahead of a public meeting on the status of leaks from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility jointly held by the U.S. Navy, Environmental Protection Agency, and Hawaiʻi Department of Health. The EPA and DOH recently rejected the Navy’s plan for the facility for lack of detail, transparency, and collaboration in the effort to protect Oʻahu’s drinking water resources. The Honolulu Board of Water Supply also released four letters reiterating their concerns with the inadequacy of the monitoring, renovation and clean up at the fuel storage facility.

“We are grateful to the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and U.S. EPA for making the tough decisions necessary to ensure our drinking water is fully protected,” said Senator Glenn Wakai, who sits on the state fuel advisory committee formed after the latest leak to address historic underground storage facilities.

In January 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from tank 5 in Red Hill. Since the facility was built in 1943, as much as 200,000 gallons of fuel has leaked from the facility. The tanks are located a mere 100 feet above the sole-source drinking water aquifer serving 600,000 residents and visitors to Oʻahu.  Groundwater monitoring wells near the storage tanks indicate fuel contamination in the water is rising.

“The stakes are too high, not only for our community, but for the entire island of Oʻahu, to leave this much room for uncertainty. We need all stakeholders to be as proactive as possible in drafting a comprehensive work plan,” said Representative Aaron Johanson.

“As someone who fought for this country and loves Hawaiʻi deeply, I am just heartbroken to see our military not doing all that it possibly can to ensure its operations do not harm the public’s health and Hawaiʻi’s amazing environment,” said Jennifer Rachels, a U.S. veteran. 

“The parallels to Flint Michigan are just too disturbing to ignore,” Rachels added. “We know what needs to be done to prevent a catastrophe, and we should not hesitate to do it.”

The Navy has been in protracted negotiations with the EPA and DOH to establish a plan of action at the fuel storage facility to clean up and protect drinking water supplies from further contamination. The EPA and DOH recently rejected the Navy’s plans for Red Hill for lack of detail, transparency, and collaboration necessary to ensure Oʻahu’s sole-source aquifer is not contaminated. 

“I am sincerely grateful for the Board of Water Supply’s commitment to protecting the public’s drinking water, as well as the public’s participation in this agreement process,” said Councilmember Carol Fukunaga. “Public trust and input is a critical component for the success of any mitigation actions taken to address public concerns and fears about the impacts of future leaks.  We should not have to wait another 20 years to see actions that protect our drinking water.”

“I hope the Navy makes the most of the opportunity provided by the rejection of their plan by the EPA and DOH,” said Senator Breene Harimoto. “There truly is no substitute for our drinking water. We have one chance to get this right. We need the Navy to act quickly and responsibly to ensure that the public’s water is not contaminated by a failure at this fuel storage facility.”

“I am deeply concerned that the current plan does not include immediate protections for our precious and irreplaceable water resources. The current plan does little to assure that we will not have a catastrophic contamination of our aquifer. Tank integrity must be assured and efforts to fix, renovate or replace the tanks must be a top priority” said Councilmember Brandon Elefante.

“As a resident in Moanalua Gardens, I share the concerns of my neighbors regarding the past and the potential of future leaks in these massive fuel tanks,” said Senator Donna Mercado Kim, who represents the district where the tanks are located.

“No amount of risk is acceptable when we are talking about the future of our drinking water,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi. “That is why we are calling the Navy to guarantee that these tanks will never leak again and to clean up the leaks that have already occurred. It is straightforward choice—no assumptions or speculation—if the Navy cannot meet this minimum expectation, then they must store their fuel elsewhere.”

Red Hill has “high potential for catastrophic environmental loss”

The Board of Water Supply wants the Navy and its regulators to engage in a much more rigorous review of the grim situation and its possible solutions.

Will Caron
Boat carrying peace activists intercepted on its way to Gaza

The Israeli Defense Force has seized a vessel carrying female peace activists bound for Gaza

At approximately 10 a.m. EST, organizers for the Women’s Boat to Gaza lost contact with the Zaytouna-Oliva, the vessel carrying female peace activists bound for Gaza. The U.S. embassy has confirmed that the boat was intercepted, and the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) has confirmed its responsibility for the seizure of the sailboat.

The vessel, which was seized in international waters, was intentionally carrying no material aid. As a premise for seizing—sometimes violently—vessels attempting to break its blockade of Gaza, Israel has claimed that weapons and contraband were being smuggled into the embattled Palestinian territory aboard humanitarian envoys. No violence has been reported with the seizure of the Zaytouna-Oliva. The boat’s owner is Israeli.

Thirteen activists were aboard the vessel, including Ann Wright, a decorated former U.S. diplomat and a member of the Veterans For Peace Advisory Board, three parliamentarians, an Olympic athlete and Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire.

The boat was commandeered without violence or resistance from the 13 activists onboard, the Israeli army said. It was intercepted some 35 nautical miles (65 kilometers) from the Gaza coast, and was making its way slowly toward the Israeli port of Ashdod.

“In accordance with government directives, and after exhausting all diplomatic channels, the Israeli Navy redirected the vessel in order to prevent breach of the lawful maritime blockade,” the IDF said in a statement.

“In accordance with international law, the Israeli Navy advised the vessel numerous times to change course prior to the action. Following their refusal the Navy visited and searched the vessel in international waters in order to prevent their intended breach of the lawful maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip. The visit and search of the vessel was uneventful,” the statement concluded.

Female soldiers were placed at the forefront of the navy’s interception force, Israel Radio reported, in order to minimize friction with the activists.

The activists put up a website carrying prepared “SOS messages” by those on board alleging they had been “kidnapped” by the IDF.

“The Zaytouna-Oliva has passed the fatal line of 100 miles and everything is going well,” said Claude Leostic, spokeswoman for the activists, earlier in the day. At around 4 a.m., local time, the crew saw lights being pointed at their vessel and assumed it was the Israeli navy, she said.

Israeli media had reported that the authorities planned to intercept the boat and then escort it to the Israeli port of Ashdod as it did with a similar attempt by activists last year.

Some Palestinians had spent the night at the beach in anticipation of greeting the vessel, and several people carried balloons, and at least one Norwegian flag, at the port in Gaza City. The Zaytouna-Oliva set sail from Barcelona in September.

Dubbed the “Women’s Boat to Gaza,” the boat is part of the wider Freedom Flotilla Coalition that consists of pro-Palestinian boats that regularly seek to go to Gaza to try to break the blockade. None has yet managed to get through, and Israeli authorities have made several arrests.

In 2010, a Turkish flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara ship was intercepted by IDF naval commandos. The soldiers were attacked as they boarded the Marmara, leading to a melee during which 10 Turkish activists were killed and several Israeli soldiers were wounded, two of them seriously.

That incident contributed to a deterioration of ties with Turkey, Jerusalem has since apologized as part of reconciliation deal with Ankara. One of the funders of the current initiative, the Islamist Turkey-based IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, was also the main organizer of the Mavi Marmara flotilla.

Israel says its maritime, land and sea blockade of Gaza is aimed at preventing Hamas from receiving weapons and supplies which could be used for military purposes. Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 and has fought three wars with the Jewish state since 2008.

UN officials have called for the blockade to be lifted.

EPA rejects Navy’s Red Hill work plan

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Hawaii Department of Health have rejected the Navy's Red Hill work plan after finding serious flaws in the sections relating to Scope of Work, Investigation and Remediation of Releases and Groundwater Protection and Evaluation and Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

The letter, printed here, is addressed to James A. K. Miyamoto, P.E. Deputy Operations Officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Hawaii

Dear Mr. Miyamoto:

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) and Hawaii Department of Health (“DOH”), collectively the “Regulatory Agencies”, have reviewed the Work Plan / Scope of Work, Investigation and Remediation of Releases and Groundwater Protection and Evaluation, Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility submitted by the U.S. Navy (“Navy”) and Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”) on May 4, 2016 (hereafter referred to as “the Work Plan”). The Regulatory Agencies are disapproving the Work Plan, pursuant to AOC Section 7(b)(d). The Navy and DLA are required to resubmit the Work Plan with revisions within 30 days of receipt of this letter as pursuant to 7(b) of the AOC.

The work to be conducted under Sections 6 and 7 of the SOW is critical for bounding the risk to drinking water resources from past and potential future releases at the Facility. To meet this objective, the Navy and DLA will need to gather sufficient data and conduct an analysis of the data to establish likely groundwater flow directions beneath and around the Facility in order to reasonably predict the movement of potential contamination. Achieving this objective in a manner that secures approval from the Regulatory Agencies and builds stakeholder acceptance will enable this analysis to be used to defensibly predict the probability of impact to drinking water resources from potential future releases.

The Work Plan does not adequately describe the work to be performed in order to meet the objectives of sections 6 and 7 of the AOC SOW. The Regulatory Agencies require Navy and DLA to revise the Work Plan pursuant to the comments below. In addition, the Navy and DLA must address the detailed comments included in attachment A (Regulatory Agencies Detailed Technical Comments and Observations) and attachment B (External Subject Matter Expert Comments).


1) The work described in the Work Plan is not structured in a manner that supports an iterative and scientifically robust approach for achieving the AOC objective of adequately understanding subsurface conditions to characterize the consequences of releases from the Facility. The Work Plan must be revised to adequately describe the process for implementing the AOC requirements in a manner that allows for sufficient review, by the Regulatory Agencies and external subject matter experts, of methods, decisions and assumptions to be used to develop the required products outlined in sections 6 and 7 of the AOC SOW.  For example, the workplan should include the following:

a. description of the process for constructing initial conceptual site model;
b. description of the process for compiling all relevant historic data and creating data summary report;
c. description of the approach proposed to assess the quality of historic information;
d. description of the proposed content and format of deliverables;
e. description of the limitations and sensitivity of existing groundwater model;
f. description of the approach proposed to make improvements to the numerical flow model;
g. description of the approach proposed to assess degradation rates of fuel in the subsurface under the range of potential release scenarios;
h. description of the approach that will be used to gather Regulatory Agency and external subject matter input at important decision points in the
process of implementing the work;
i. description of the approach proposed for assessing adequacy of sentinel network; and
j. description of the process to be used to update the groundwater protection plan.

2) The conceptual site model presented in the Work Plan is an incomplete representation of existing data and does not adequately acknowledge uncertainty related to the conditions around the Facility. Instead of presenting an inadequate conceptual site model in the workplan, the workplan should be revised to describe the process and approach that will be used to create a defensible initial conceptual site model, and subsequent updates to the conceptual site model, that acknowledges uncertainty and is based on all data available for the site. The Regulatory Agencies suggest the Navy and DLA submit for Regulatory Agency approval, a stand-alone plan for developing and updating the conceptual site model rather than combining it in the overall Work Plan.

3) The conceptual site model needs to evaluate NAPL movement in the saturated and unsaturated zones for the purposes of risk characterization. The plan for the conceptual site model needs to describe an approach for evaluating the potential migration rates and directions for NAPL movement from all areas of the Facility. Estimation of NAPL migration from potential releases identified as part of the Section 8 work is needed to characterize the consequences of potential future releases. In order to do this, the plan will need to describe how the lithology data will be used to estimate the probable NAPL migration direction, the fraction of NAPL that is expected to be immobilized in the vadose zone, and the fraction of released NAPL expected to reach the water table either as LNAPL or dissolved phase contamination. The Work Plan should further provide a plan for assessing the potential migration of LNAPL on the water table.

4) The Work Plan needs to include a deliverable that adequately describes the existing data available to be used for the modeling effort and assesses the adequacy of the data to achieve the objectives of the AOC. The Navy and DLA should compile all existing data, including but not limited to groundwater chemistry data, water table elevation data, precipitation data, groundwater production data, aquifer test data, boring logs, tank barrel logs, and other relevant data into a standalone deliverable for the Regulatory Agencies’ review and approval. This document should not only present the existing data, but assess the quality and limitations of the data for the purposes of satisfying the objectives of the AOC.

5) The Work Plan does not describe how groundwater flow paths will be determined since groundwater gradients and groundwater flow direction are not always coincident. Anisotropy, formation heterogeneity, and subsurface structures can result in groundwater flow paths not adequately characterized by groundwater gradient. The Work Plan needs to specify how these factors will be evaluated and their impact on groundwater flow patterns assessed.

6) The Work Plan does not adequately describe how the groundwater flow model will be updated, recalibrated, assessed for sensitivity, and ultimately utilized as a tool to inform future work to be performed. The Work Plan should be revised so that the model refinement effort is transparent and provides appropriate opportunity for Regulatory Agency and external subject matter expert involvement. During this effort, the Regulatory Agencies expect that numerous professional judgements will be exercised. The Work Plan should describe how these professional judgements and other assumptions will be incorporated and documented as the model is refined.  Given the model’s importance in future work to be performed under the AOC, the modeling effort should strive to achieve a team approach that involves individuals with demonstrated expertise and experience.  The desired expertise is describe further in the attached Regulatory Agency Detailed Technical Comments - Attachment A.

7) The Work Plan does not adequately describe how the assessment of attenuation rate of fuel in the vadose zone and saturated zone will be evaluated as part of this effort. Navy and DLA should present a plan for collecting and analyzing data to evaluate and bound the likely rate of fuel attenuation in the subsurface from the range of releases that could occur at the Facility. Understanding the likely range of attenuation rates is important for both the development of the conceptual site model and for the fate and transport modeling effort. Adequate understanding of attenuation of hydrocarbon relative to releases at the Facility is important for accurate characterization of the consequences of releases.

8) The Work Plan does not sufficiently describe how an adequate sentinel monitoring well network will be established for early detection of contaminants from the Facility that may threaten drinking water production facilities. The Navy and DLA shall present a plan for evaluating and establishing a sentinel network for the existing groundwater production points that will provide sufficient certainty that any contaminants approaching these production points can be detected adequately and in a timely manner to allow for execution of contingency measures in a manner that will prevent contaminated groundwater from entering the drinking water distribution networks.

9) The Work Plan does not describe how the results of the groundwater investigation and resulting modeling will be used to establish risk based decision criteria. The Navy and DLA shall present a plan to integrate the risk assessment of section 8 of the AOC SOW with the data collected and models generated by section 7 to establish risk based criteria for the Groundwater Protection Plan and any emergency response plans that are developed to mitigate or prevent impact of groundwater resources by a fuel release.

10) The Work Plan does not present an adequate process to assess the quality, sensitivities, and potential uncertainties of the current groundwater model that Navy and DLA are proposing to update in order to satisfy the objectives of the AOC. Navy and DLA shall submit a groundwater model evaluation plan that describes a process for review of the existing groundwater model in a manner that identifies uncertainties and describes options for reducing uncertainty. This plan should include an evaluation of the benefits of additional aquifer tests to further reduce uncertainty. The Work Plan should also analyze how the most recently collected data fits the previously calibrated groundwater model.

11) The Work Plan does not adequately describe the content and organization of deliverables, project schedules, and opportunities for Regulatory Agencies and external subject matter expert review of assumptions and information used to develop deliverables. The Navy and DLA shall provide an outline of deliverables to be produced including an outline of groundwater monitoring reports, investigation reports, modeling reports, and other relevant reports. This outline of deliverables shall identify the tables, graphs, charts, and figures proposed for these deliverables. The Navy and DLA shall also provide a project schedule describing the work to be performed under sections 6 and 7 of the AOC SOW, including a schedule for activities including, but not limited to data collection events, interim deliverables, final deliverables, comment periods, and decision meetings. In developing this schedule, the Navy and DLA shall make a good faith effort to reduce as much as possible the duration of time between sample collection and data reporting to the Regulatory Agencies.

In order to expedite the work to be performed, we strongly suggest that this Work Plan be simplified. It should focus on the work to be performed and reserve the presentation of historical background data and other information to the individual deliverables outlined in the revised Work Plan. An acceptable work plan will need to describe the approach to creating the deliverables, describe the process for making decisions related to data quality and data accuracy, describe the expected content and format for the deliverables, and describe the schedule for creating the deliverables.

We are available to discuss our comments in more detail. Please contact us with any questions. Bob Pallarino can be reached at (415) 947-4128 or al pallarino.bob@epa.gov and Steven Chang can be reached al (808) 586-4226 or al stevcn.chang@doh.hawaii.gov.

Disney craps a cute grass skirt

Unpacking insidious colonial power and indigenous enabling in Disney’s "Moana"

Vicente Diaz
Forty-nine new endangered species in Hawaii

Thirty-nine plant and 10 animal species in Hawaii added to list of endangered species

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that 39 plants and 10 animal species in the State of Hawai‘i are at risk of extinction and are being added to the list of federally endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

These 49 species occur in 11 different habitat types, with 48 of them occurring nowhere on Earth except Hawai‘i. One bird species being listed—the band-rumped storm-petrel (shown above)—occurs in Japan, Hawai‘i, the Galapagos and subtropical areas of the Atlantic. The service is listing only the Hawai‘i population, found on the islands of Hawai‘i, Maui, Kaua‘i and Lehua in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands as endangered.

“These species are all affected by habitat loss and invasive species,” said Mary Abrams, the service’s field supervisor for the Pacific Islands Fish and Wildlife Office. “Listing these species as endangered will help draw attention to the threats that have brought them so close to extinction, and allow us to begin the process of bringing about recovery.”

These plants and animals are at risk of extinction due to invasive, non-native species, habitat altering recreational activities, small remaining population sizes and threats from erosion, landslides and fire. According to the service, the listing of these species will not only boost ongoing conservation efforts to address these threats and prevent extinction, but will improve the ecological health of the islands.

“A number of threats continue to have a devastating impact on native ecosystems in the Hawaiian Islands” Abrams said. “We will continue working with local communities, governments, industry and the people of Hawai‘i to protect and recover these native species, which are an important part of what makes these islands so special.”

For a complete list of the species in covered by this action, copies of the Federal Register Notice, and all other associated documents please visit www.fws.gov/pacificislands/

Donald Trump: the ultimate haole

A local perspective on the republican presidential candidate

Judy Rohrer

How #luckywelivehawaii & #lethawaiihappen are helping to entrench colonialism in Hawaiʻi.

Tyler Greenhill
Hawaii Trump rally will take place at Veteran’s Center

Hawaii’s Donald Trump supporters plan to rally at the Oahu Veteran’s Center on September 10. “The Oahu Veterans Center provides a wonderful venue for the event and is symbolic of Donald Trump’s long-standing support and dedication to the Nation’s veterans,” said Gigi Jones, director of Trump’s Hawaii campaign.

Donald Trump, who has never served in the military and received five draft deferments during the Vietnam War (one for “bone spurs”), said in an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos, that he believes he has sacrificed just as much as those who have served in the military. It was his first response to a charge at the Democratic National Convention from Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq, that he “sacrificed nothing” for his country. Trump claimed that he sacrificed by employing “thousands and thousands of people.”

“Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America,” Khizr Khan said, addressing Trump. “You will see all faiths, genders and ethnicities. You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”

Pressed by Stephanopoulos to identify the sacrifices he made for his country, Trump said, “I think I’ve made a lot of sacrifices. I work very, very hard. I’ve created thousands and thousands of jobs, tens of thousands of jobs, built great structures. I’ve had tremendous success. I think I’ve done a lot.”

Trump also cited his work on behalf of veterans, including helping build a Vietnam War memorial in Manhattan and raising “millions of dollars” for vets.

Paul Rieckoff, the founder and CEO of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, a nonpartisan group with close to 200,000 members, said, “For anyone to compare their ‘sacrifice’ to a Gold Star family member is insulting, foolish and ignorant. Especially someone who has never served himself and has no children serving. Our country has been at war for a decade and a half, and the truth is most Americans have sacrificed nothing. Most of them are smart and grounded enough to admit it.”

Will Caron
Dakota Access Pipeline Company Attacks Native American Protesters with Dogs & Pepper Spray

On September 3, the Dakota Access pipeline company attacked Native Americans with dogs and pepper spray as they protested against the $3.8 billion pipeline’s construction. If completed, the pipeline would carry about 500,000 barrels of crude per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oilfield to Illinois. The project has faced months of resistance from the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and members of nearly 100 more tribes from across the U.S. and Canada.

Democracy Now!