US Defense Secretary Meets on Red Hill Closure Plan, Health Response

U.S. Department of Defense

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III convened senior Department leaders today for an update on the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The meeting included the Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Gilbert R. Cisneros Jr., Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William A. LaPlante, INDOPACOM commander Admiral John C. Aquilino, Joint Task Force Red Hill commander Vice Admiral John Wade, and other senior leaders.

Vice Admiral Wade briefed Secretary Austin that efforts to safely and expeditiously defuel the facility are on track to meet the milestones in DoD's defueling plan, which projected defueling operations to begin February 2024 and be complete by June 2024. The Joint Task Force is leveraging logistics expertise from the Defense Logistics Agency-Energy (DLA Energy) and is coordinating closely with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).

The Department of the Navy is actively engaged with federal and state regulators to administer a closure plan for the Red Hill facility upon conclusion of the defueling process. The Navy also will continue to monitor water quality levels to ensure residents of Hawaii have access to safe and clean drinking water. In addition, the Defense Health Agency (DHA), in concert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health Affairs, continues to provide health care for the military families and residents impacted by the incident. In January 2023, the DHA established the Red Hill Clinic, which provides same-day consultations two days a week for those experiencing symptoms potentially related to the Red Hill fuel release.

During the meeting, Secretary Austin also received an update on the Maui Space Surveillance Complex (MSCC) fuel spill at the summit of Haleakalā in Maui, Hawaii. The Department of the Air Force recognizes the cultural significance of the Haleakalā summit and is proactively implementing a plan to mitigate the environmental impact of the leak.

Secretary Austin reaffirmed his commitment to protect human health and the environment in Hawaii and emphasized that DoD leaders will continue to work closely with the Hawaii Department of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and Hawaii state officials to ensure a timely and safe defueling and closure of the Red Hill facility.

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