Sand Island fuel spill cleanup hits 14 months
Crews are getting the first look inside a tank that leaked more than 40,000 gallons of jet fuel last year.
HONOLULU - More than a year after a massive jet fuel spill at Sand Island crews are getting the first real look inside the leaking tank.
Crews gained access to the tank's interior by cutting a gaping hole on the side.
Snapshots provided by the EPA show the test borings as workers drilled through the steel plate on the tank’s bottom.
They discovered a plume of jet fuel they had not been able to reach--- until now.
These tanks are huge and each one has a capacity 2.6 million gallons.
The tank farm supplies jet fuel for all the airplanes flying in and out of Honolulu International Airport.
The Environmental Protection Agency said over the past week crews began sucking out fuel that's been trapped under the base of the tank. As of yesterday, some 200 gallons of product has been removed.
"It was not part of our original EPA clean up order but the company approached us knowing they wanted to fix and reuse this tank. They wanted to work with us to make sure everything is clean underneath the tank," said EPA spokesman Dean Higuchi.
It was back in January of last year that Hawaii Fueling and Facilities reported that an estimated 42,000 gallons of fuel
leaked out of the tank.
To date only 30,000 gallons have been retrieved.
It’s been a slow process, as crews have been pumping out fuel contaminated water and are having to separate the two.
The next step is to dig a trench to intercept any fuel that may spill out in the direction of the Keehi Lagoon.
That work will start in mid-April and take about three weeks.
"Once that's done there will be multiple areas pulling product and cleaning and remediating the site," Higuchi said.
Along the shoreline booms still remain in place.
The EPA has yet to assess any fines as the work is still in the recovery phase.
Violations of the Clean Water act could run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"We are really fortunate that no product has shown up in the water," said Higuchi.
While the company is making progress and has worked to minimize the environmental damage, it has been a long drawn out process and the clean-up tab is mounting.