EPA To Disband Red Hill Oversight Group Amid Navy Complaints

Navy leaders and the EPA, including regional enforcement chief Amy Miller, in blue, have been meeting with community members since last year to discuss the defueling and closure of Red Hill. (U.S. Navy photo/2024)

A community-led group formed to provide public oversight of the Navy’s Red Hill fuel facility will be shut down after the committee refused to cede control of the meetings to the military.

The Red Hill Community Representation Initiative, or CRI, was formed last year by an agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Navy and the Defense Logistics Agency. The aim was to give residents an open line of communication with the military after fuel from Red Hill tainted Pearl Harbor’s drinking water in 2021, sickening thousands of people.

“You took the Navy’s side on this.”

But relations have devolved, with the military wanting to take charge of the meetings and community members declining to let them. On Wednesday, the EPA told CRI members it will be eliminating the forum altogether by signing a new agreement with the military that doesn’t include them.

“Because we cannot reach a consensus on ground rules, all the parties agree that we need to amend the consent order,” EPA regional enforcement chief Amy Miller said during a Zoom call with members.

Members responded with disbelief and outrage. CRI member Lacey Quintero, whose family fell severely ill after drinking water tainted by Red Hill fuel, was furious.

“You took the Navy’s side on this,” she said. “As a veteran, as a military spouse, shame on you!”

The military will not be required to attend the next CRI meeting on June 20. A new agreement is being negotiated, which may include an alternative to the CRI, Miller said.

Made up of environmental advocates and people impacted by the contamination, the CRI has been a forum to discuss the shut down of Red Hill and question military leaders. The group doesn’t always get answers, leading to heated interactions between angry community members and defensive military officials.

After a meeting in December turned contentious, the Navy skipped the following meeting. Since then, the military has tried to wrest control of meetings from the community members, proposing several specific  […]

Full article: www.civilbeat.org