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Navy to empty fuel tanks at Hawaii storage depot after leak threatened water supply

By Megan Hadley
Members of Hawaii's Board of Water Supply visit the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. File Photo courtesy U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet/<a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Redhillops.jpg" target="_blank">Wikimedia Commons</a>
Members of Hawaii's Board of Water Supply visit the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. File Photo courtesy U.S. Navy Pacific Fleet/Wikimedia Commons

Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A top naval official said Tuesday that the U.S. Navy will empty fuel storage tanks at a base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, after a leak weeks ago threatened a supply of water.

Hawaii's Health Department ordered that the underground tanks at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility be emptied. The Navy could have appealed the order, but Rear Adm. Blake Converse, deputy commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told a congressional hearing on Tuesday that the order will be carried out.

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"Yes, we are in receipt of the emergency order issued by the Hawaii Department of Health, and we are taking action because it is a lawful order to comply with," Converse told the House armed services subcommittee Tuesday, according to The Hill.

Rear Adm. Blake Converse told lawmakers Tuesday that the Navy will complete an order to empty underground fuel tanks. File Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Shaun Griffin/U.S. Navy

In November, 14,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked at the storage facility and forced 3,500 military families out of their homes between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Hawaii's order requires the Navy to develop a plan to fix the leaky tanks and perform other maintenance, as well as installing a water filtration system at the contaminated spots.

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The storage facility sits directly above a ground aquifer that is the principal source of drinking water for the Hawaiian island of Oahu.

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