Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visits Oahu and tours the Red Hill facility


    Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III, seen here at a change of command ceremony at Pearl Harbor in 2021, will return to Oahu this week and tour Camp Red Hill.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin will visit the Red Hill underground fuel storage facility as part of a tour of California and Hawaii, the Pentagon announced today.

Austin will begin his trip Wednesday at Naval Base Point Loma and Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, where he will meet with service members. In Hawaii, “he will meet with some of our key Indo-Pacific allies” and with Rear Admiral John Wade, who became commander of the new Joint Task Force Red Hill last week. The task force will be responsible for defueling the Red Hill facility.

Austin ordered the facility defueled and permanently shut down in March after kerosene from the facility contaminated the Navy’s drinking water system, which serves 93,000 people on Oahu, in November. The contamination affected both soldiers and civilians living in former military barracks.

The military’s original plan for the refueling called for it to take at least December 2024 to complete the process, but this month the Defense Department said it now expects the process to be completed by July 2024.

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