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!
Bob McDermott needs to shut up about sex ed

The socially conservative state rep. is doing his constituents, and all the children in Hawai‘i's public school system, a disservice with his continuing crusade against the BOE's new comprehensive sexual education policy

Will Caron
An open letter to President Obama and the members of the IUCN Congress

On September 1-10, 2016, the IUCN World Conservation Congress is gathering in Hawai`i because “the ecosystems that underpin our economies, well-being and survival are collapsing. Species are becoming extinct at unprecedented rates. Our climate is in crisis.”

The time for action is now. IUCN has called for change in the wake of the 2015 Paris climate conference in which “almost 200 nations agreed on ambitious goals for sustainable development and achieving climate neutrality. These agreements represent an historic opportunity to improve the lives of billions of people around the globe and put nature at the heart of our decisions. It’s time to move these agreements into action.”

Yet, Hawai`i—the country hosting this historic gathering—has been subjected to tremendous and consistent environmental attack. Most recently abuses include:

1. Desecration of Sacred Mauna Kea. The State of Hawai`i has supported the construction of telescope after telescope on the sacred slopes of Mauna Kea. These actions are undertaken over the objection of the first peoples of the land, Nā Kānaka Maoli, and are in clear violation of our Free, Prior, and Informed Consent. Most recently the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope has threatened our sacred Mauna. Our kīa`i have been dutifully protecting Mauna Kea for over a year as courts deliberate the legality of the construction of this $1.4 billion project.

2. The Trans Pacific Partnership. The TPP trade agreement empowers corporations over nations and peoples, endangering indigenous lands in Hawai`i and across the globe.

3. The United States Military & RIMPAC. Live fire training on our lands, sea, and air has destroyed and poisoned hundreds of thousands of acres of Hawai`i’s limited lands, polluted Hawai`i’s formerly pristine seas, and contaminated Hawai`i’s winds with depleted uranium which poisons residents and visitors alike. RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise. Held biennially in Hawai`i, it turns the Kanaka Maoli homeland into a playground for global military powers, selling weapons of destruction and training nations in the oppression of others.

4. The proposed Department of Interior (DOI) Rule to create a Native Hawaiian Tribe. In 2014 the DOI held a set of hearings throughout the islands asking Hawai’i’s communities if they would like the DOI to propagate a Rule that would facilitate the creation of a federally recognized Native Hawaiian tribe.  Over ninety-five percent of the in-person testimony at these hearings were opposed to the creation of a Rule (with many advocating for complete Independence for Hawai’i). These testimonies were discounted when the DOI chose to consider anonymous and duplicate written testimony on par with in-person opposition. This practice resulted in flawed numbers which suggest that 70% of our people support the unethical process initiated by the DOI. Moving forward in this flawed process will circumvent critically important discussions about independence and self-determination currently taking place among Kanaka Maoli communities in Hawai`i and on Moku Honu.

5. Building of the North Dakota Access Pipeline. Our concern for the environment extends globally. An unprecedented unification of First Nations people has taken place in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux who are protecting their waters from the Dakota Access Pipeline which (if built) will transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil over 1,172 miles daily. This unity echoes throughout Indian country in struggles for Sacred Oak Flats, Moahdak D’ag, and countless others. It exemplifies what First Nations people undertake to protect our environment when, more often than not, the safety of our land, water, and air is threatened by local and federal authorities. We stand with our brothers and sisters who are uniting all indigenous people to protect our water and future generations against corporations and the short-sighted fixation on fossil fuels.

We the undersigned firmly oppose the continued destruction of Hawai`i and all First Nations lands at the hands of governments, corporations, and militaries which prioritize money over the health and well-being of people and the environment. We call on President Obama and the IUCN World Conservation Congress to take clear and immediate action to stop these abuses.

Kanaka Maoli Individuals, Organizations and Supporters

‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina New York City
‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina O’ahu
Anne Keala Kelly, Filmmaker & Journalist
Ben Manuel
Bianca Isaki, Ph.D., Esq.
Candice Fujikane, PhD, English Professor, University of Hawaiʻi
Cheryl Burghardt
Christina Bacchilega
Claud Sutcliffe, PhD
David Maile
Healani Sonoda-Pale, Protest Naʻi Aupuni
Hui Kū Like Kākou
Iraq Veterans Against the War NYC
Isaac Harp, Destination Restoration
Jeanette Soon-Ludes, PhD, ‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina Washington DC
KĀHEA - The Hawaiian Environmental Alliance
Ka Lāhui Hawai`i Political Action Committee
Kalamaoka’āina Niheu, MD, ‘Ohana Koa Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific
Kau’i Trainer
Kealoha Pisciotta, President of Mauna Kea Anaina Hou and member of Kai Palaoa
Nā Koa Ikaika O Ka Lahui Hawai`i
Nodutdol for Korean Community Development NYC
Laurel Turbin Mei-Singh
Melissa Moniz, President of Kai ‘Ula Pono’i Texas HCC
Patricia A Gozemba, SAFE Co-Chair
Stephanie Mushrush, MSW member of Washoe Tribe of NV and CA
R. D. Conner & Rachel L. “Momi” Kailianu-Conner
Shalee Kekawa, ‘Aha Aloha ‘Āina SoCal
Tuti Baker
Will Caron

Anti-TPP protest planned for president’s IUCN appearance reflects party differences

The protest, planned by Sanders delegates--many of whom are Democratic Party newcomers--will take place tomorrow outside the East-West Center

President Obama will make two public appearances on Wednesday, August 31, and anti-TPP activists from within his own party intend to protest outside both. The president will appear first at the Lake Tahoe Summit in California and next at the World Conservation Congress at the East West Center in Honolulu from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. HST.

The protests are being organized by Bernie Sanders delegates who first met at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia last month. There they protested platform committee co-chair Elijah Cummings appearance on the first day of the convention and President Obama’s on the third day over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) issue. The East-West Center protests will also reflect opposition to U.S. military buildups throughout the Pacific as part of the Obama Administration’s Pacific Pivot.

“The TPP will be devastating for Hawaii’s people and our economy,” said embattled member of the Democratic Party of Hawaii Chelsea Lyons-Kent, an organizer for the protests, “We’re all very aware how destructive these so called trade deals can be. NAFTA has cost the U.S. millions of good paying jobs that were sent overseas. It has also been a major factor in the shrinking of our middle class. The TPP is NAFTA on steroids. The people of Hawaii cannot afford to have anymore good paying jobs being sent overseas.”

Lyons-Kent is under fire from the conservative, established members of the Democratic Party of Hawaii after she photobombed an image taken at the DNC that included party bigwigs Sen. Brian Schatz, who opposes the TPP, Sen. Mazie Hirono and former governor John Waihee. Lyons-Kent flipped her middle finger as the photo was taken. She defended the gesture as a legitimate, if ill-advised, protest over the establishment’s support of policies like the TPP and Pacific Pivot in the party platform committee debates, and out of frustration at the establishment’s stonewalling of the newer, more progressive members of the party.

Hawaii democratic officials are now using the photo in an attempt to remove her from the party altogether, and are attempting to remove a longtime progressive leader within the Democratic Party as well, simply because he defended her action, which begs the question, Are party officials simply using the “she has no aloha spirit” excuse as cover to try and remove progressives who intend to “cause trouble” over issues like the TPP?

During his primary campaign, Senator Sanders opposed the TPP, saying it represents an evolution in lopsided trade deals that benefit major corporate interests and hurt workers, consumers and the environment since the NAFTA deal of the mid-‘90s. Sanders selected platform committee members were outspoken opponents of the TPP during platform debates and attempted to include opposition to the deal in the Democratic party platform. The attempt was thwarted by Clinton and DNC committee appointees who said they didn’t want to embarrass President Obama. Sanders delegates decided to stay together after the convention, forming the TPP Action Network to organize actions against the TPP.

Both major presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump purport to be against the TPP, but Clinton’s chief strategist has said she would not drop the deal, but would rather renegotiate it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel has indicated that he is amenable to passing the TPP with changes in the next administration.

The Hawaii action is being cosponsored by: Our Revolution Hawai’i, 350.org Hawai’i, DeOccupy Honolulu, Idle No More Hawai’i and The World Can’t Wait.

The Tahoe event will also include a protest against Jerry Brown, who has steadfastly refused to ban fracking since activists began petitioning and protesting him four years ago. Fracking has quadrupled under President Obama, causing the U.S. to surpass Saudi Arabia as the world’s number one producer of oil. This is despite the desire by both Brown and Obama to be known as climate leaders.

Will Caron