April 12, 2022

Senator Hirono & Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Tour Red Hill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and SASC Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) toured the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on Oahu and met with Servicemembers at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. During the tour, they received an update on the Department of Defense’s (DOD) plans for the closure of Red Hill from senior military leaders. The tour is part of a week-long Congressional Delegation trip to Hawaii and is an opportunity for Senator Hirono to highlight for Chairman Reed of the importance safely and efficiently defueling and closing Red Hill.

“The Red Hill crisis has been deeply challenging for communities on Oahu, and ensuring the safe and efficient defueling and closure of Red Hill is of the utmost importance,” said Senator Hirono. “As a member of the Armed Services Committee, I have fought hard to make sure this is a priority for Defense Department leadership, the Biden Administration, and my colleagues on the Committee. I’m grateful for Chairman Reed’s support on this important issue, and I’m glad he was able to see the Red Hill facility for himself. I look forward to our continued partnership as we work to oversee the closure of Red Hill and develop a fuel storage strategy that meets our national security needs.”

“I thank Senator Hirono for inviting me to see the situation first hand. She’s a strong advocate for Hawaii on the committee. I support Secretary Austin’s decision to close Red Hill to ensure clean, safe drinking water with a more concerted focus on a distributed and resilient fuel laydown for our forces in the Pacific. This decision not only advances public health but strategic objectives as well. We will work to ensure closure and remediation is executed effectively on a timeline that assures high levels of DOD readiness,” said Chair Reed.

This tour is the latest step Senator Hirono is taking to prioritize the Red Hill crisis for her colleagues on the Armed Services Committee and military leadership. During a SASC hearing last week, she questioned Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin about next steps for fuel storage and environmental remediation at Red Hill. Last month, Hirono questioned U.S. commanders about future fuel storage needs following the announced closure of Red Hill. In February, Senator Hirono toured Red Hill and met with business owners affected by the water contamination crisis.

As a member of the Armed Services Committee, Senator Hirono has and will continue to play an important role in the defueling and closure of Red Hill. Earlier this year, she helped secure $100 million for Red Hill defueling in an appropriations bill that was signed into law. Additionally, she will be directly involved in crafting the 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets priorities for the Department of Defense, and will fight to ensure  the provisions necessary to safely close Red Hill are include in that legislation.

Photos from the tour are available to be downloaded here.

The Congressional Delegation trip reflects Senator Hirono’s consistent efforts to emphasize Hawaii’s strategic importance for the U.S. military. In addition to the Red Hill tour, the delegation visit will include stops at military installations throughout Hawaii and meetings with senior military leadership for the Pacific region.

Senator Hirono steps on Red Hill:

  • On April 7, questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin about next steps for fuel storage and environmental remediation at Red Hill in a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
  • On March 29, Senator Hirono applauded the inclusion of $1 billion in funding to close Red Hill in President Biden’s FY2023 budget.
  • On March 29, Senator Hirono questioned U.S. Commanders about the Department of Defense’s bulk fuel storage strategy in the Pacific in light of the announced closure of Red Hill.
  • On March 10, Senator Hirono questioned U.S. commanders about the Department of Defense’s future fuel storage needs in the pacific following the decision to close Red Hill.
  • On March 9, Senator Hirono released a statement applauding the $686 million in funding for the Red Hill water contamination crisis that was included in the fiscal year 2022 omnibus spending bill.
  • On March 7, Senator Hirono expressed her strong support regarding the Department of Defense’s decision to defuel and permanently shut down the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.
  • On March 3, Senator Hirono sent a letter to the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee and Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment. In her letter, she urged them to support her efforts in ensuring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the resources it needs to continue addressing the water contamination caused by the fuel leak.
  • On February 22, Senator Hirono toured the Red Hill facility and met business owners at the NEX Food Court who have been impacted by the Navy’s contaminated water system.
  • On February 17, Senator Hirono applauded Senate passage of the continuing resolution-legislation to keep the government funded—which included $350 million to address the Red Hill crisis. Senator Hirono will continue to fight for additional funding to defuel safely and for the DoD to develop and implement a long-term plan to meet the strategic fueling needs of the Indo Pacific region in the upcoming fiscal year 2023 National Defense Authorization Act.
  • On February 11, Senator Hirono released a statement where she reiterated that the State of Hawaii has the authority to shut down Red Hill through its permitting process—and that she will fully support the State’s decision.
  • As the Department of Defense considers options for the long-term strategic fuel reserve needs of the Indo Pacific region, Senator Hirono sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense urging the Department to focus on options that do not rely on Red Hill, given the likelihood that the facility will be shutdown. Senator Hirono requested the briefing and the completed analysis by March 30 to ensure the NDAA includes necessary provisions to protect Hawaii’s water and our national security.
  • During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Senator Hirono highlighted the Red Hill water contamination crisis as she questioned Robert Storch, nominee to be Inspector General of the DoD, and Christopher Lowman, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Sustainment. She inquired about the continuation of the Inspector General (IG) investigation into operations at Red Hill and potential strategies to address any long-term impacts, should the State elect to shut down the Red Hill facility. A link to download video of the exchange is available here.
  • In December, the DoD IG announced their intent to open an investigation into the Navy’s ability to safely operate Red Hill at the request of Senator Hirono and the Hawaii Congressional delegation.  Senator Hirono asked Mr. Storch, if confirmed, whether he would commit to continuing the current investigation into Red Hill. The Senator emphasized the importance of completing the investigation, regardless of whether the facility is allowed to continue its operations.

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