Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

February 2, 2023

Shut Down Red HIll Facility -- U.S. Navy Endangers Native Hawaiians Water

Shut down Red Hill: Ola I Ka Wai!

 Down Red Hill Public Comment due Monday, Feb. 6

By Water Protectors Legal Collective


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Navy are asking for public comments on a consent decree regarding the defueling and closure of the Red Hill Facility, and the operation of the Pearl Harbor drinking water system. The consent decree was negotiated without any consultation with the Honolulu Board of Water Supply or the community whose lives, homes, children, and future generations remain in existential jeopardy every day that fuel remains in the decrepit Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility and its actively corroding underground storage tanks.

Send a clear message to the EPA and Navy that this document is simply unacceptable! We do not consent. Submit public comment by Monday, February 6, 2022:

In Solidarity,

Ola I Ka Wai! Water is Life! WPLC Legal Director, attorney Natali Segovia, addresses the EPA directly at the Red Hill town hall meeting regarding the proposed Red Hill consent decree (open to public comment until February 6). Natali asks:

1. How does this consent order fulfill the EPA mandate to protect human health and the environment, if the EPA has only worked with the US Navy and has not accepted specific input from Board of Water Supply and DOH, and this draft consent order was drafted with ZERO community input?

2. How is the EPA implementing the Indigenous knowledge guidance for federal agencies released by White House Council on Environmental Quality (Dec 1, 2022) in the context of Red Hill?

3. Does the EPA consider this a crisis and an imminent threat?

“You, EPA, are a guest here. 130 years ago, the US Navy helped overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. You were not guests then and your actions to harm these islands on Kahoolawe, Pohakuloa, and now Red Hill, continue to be part of this difficult historical legacy. You were not there 130 years ago, but you have a responsibility and an OPPORTUNITY TODAY TO DO better. Actions speak louder than words. As a national and international legal organization, we will continue to stand with the people of Hawai’i and follow these developments closely because there can be no accountability without community engagement and oversight.” Natali Segovia

Click image to play or watch at

Suggested Talking Points from the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi for Comments on the EPA/Navy Consent Decree:

1) EPA must NOT agree to anything that could hamstring or even override the Department of Health's emergency order to defuel and close the Red Hill Facility. It does not matter if EPA officials "hope" there will be no conflict between the EPA, DOH and/or Navy, or that they will "try" to resolve any conflicts that may arise. The DOH emergency order must take precedence over any possible conflict with the consent decree, including and especially DOH requirements that could defuel and close the Red Hill Facility much more quickly than the Navy’s current defueling plan.

2) EPA MUST require the Navy to move *faster* and NOT buy into their two-year defueling plan timeline. The 2015 Administrative Order on Consent between the EPA and Navy is a prime example of how the Navy has used "consent" decrees or orders as a tool to drag their feet at best; at worst, the Navy simply fails to follow through on their commitments, with no consequence. Any consent decree must include clear and enforceable deadlines (with meaningful penalties) for faster action, and require the Navy to consult with experts who can identify additional, safer ways to defuel and close the Red Hill Facility much more quickly. NOTE: Deadlines may be the only way the community will be able to evaluate whether defueling delays are due to Navy foot-dragging, or bona fide, extenuating circumstances that could justify keeping our water and island in daily jeopardy.

3) EPA MUST require the Navy to warn its water system users about its safe drinking water violations. The EPA identified a litany of failures on the part of the Navy to operate its water system safely, some of which are addressed in the consent decree. In addition, hundreds of people have continued to report sheens or odors with their tapwater, and hundreds more have reported ongoing health issues months after their water was declared “safe.” Moreover, water quality data indicates there may be PFAS levels in the Navy’s water system at hundreds of times the EPA's health advisory guidelines. The Navy must be required to meaningfully inform the child development centers, schools, businesses, and residents about the fact that their drinking water system has not been and continues to be in non-compliance with federal and state safe drinking water laws.

4) EPA MUST prohibit the use of "forever chemicals" in the Red Hill Facility's fire suppression system. We cannot tolerate the risk of "forever chemicals" - just a small amount of which could permanently contaminate trillions of gallons of water - being released just 100 feet above our sole source aquifer. With PFAS-free fire fighting foams readily available, there is no excuse to continue risking the permanent and irreversible contamination of our ʻāina and wai with chemicals that could result in cancer and other serious health impacts, for generations into the future.

5) EPA MUST require the Navy to fund an independent, certified lab on Oʻahu that can provide water testing results in a timely manner. It is unacceptable that we must still wait for weeks for lab results from the continent, to know whether the water near our wells and in the Navy’s drinking water system may be poisoned by jet fuel, PFAS, or other contaminants from the Red Hill Facility.

6) EPA MUST require the Navy to engage more meaningfully with the community. The public must be able to assess the Navy's actions and hold its leaders accountable for the mess we are in. Navy leaders need to hold monthly if not weekly meetings, to hear and respond to the questions and concerns of the community who may be one earthquake, one human error, or one age-related structural failure away from total destruction.

Photo credit: A tiny kiaʻi wai gives beleaguered Honolulu Board of Water Supply Chief Engineer Ernie Lau a hug after he spoke at the Walk for Wai rally on Dec. 10. Said Lau afterwards, “This is why I do my job.” – Photo: Jason Lees


Water Protector Legal Collective
P.O. Box 37065
Albuquerque, N.M. 87176

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