Navy provides insight into cleanup efforts at Red Hill Shaft

HONOLULU (KHON2) – On Sunday, December 12, the Navy allowed media to visit the affected area at Red Hill Shaft to view fuel salvage operations carried out by divers from the Mobile Dive and Salvage Unit (MDSU) , as well as other entrepreneurs.

MDSU One divers pumped and skimmed the contaminated water into environmental containment tanks, which is then treated at the FLC fuel recovery facility.

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The media tunneled into a room with water tanks and a two-foot-wide hole. About 17 divers alternated two to three hour shifts to descend this two-foot-wide hole – about 80 to 90 feet deep – to inspect and test the well.

Divers wear protective gear, including rubber dry suits and sealed helmets with a special exhaust to prevent contaminated water from entering their suit; divers are completely enclosed.

“Once he puts this on he starts to sweat, he has no ventilation.” It is therefore important to dress him safely, to brief him and to immerse him in the water where he can maintain a kind of body temperature without overheating ”, explained Jose Castillo III, commander of the mobile rescue unit. diving company 18.

“Once we took samples, we then set up a skimming operation to remove some of the contamination so that we could start trying to rehabilitate that well – that’s what’s happening right now. moment, “Castillo continued.

An MDSU One diver has been with the company for four years. He said his team usually does open water rescue and this task is unlike any other.

“We’re adjusting the pump to the waterline, and we’re basically brushing all the white film – you’ve seen the footage from the TV screen – and we’re doing it in shifts. So we’re kind of spinning, it’s really hot there, and it’s not, it’s not comfortable, ”said MDSU One ND2 diver Reed Akey.

Akey said the cleanup was off to a slow start; an official said Sunday marked the third successful day for skimming the water.

“It took a bit of tweaking of the equipment over the last few days to get a good amount of water that we skim off the surface,” explained Castillo III. “So we’re going to have that evaluated, and other entities will look at what we’re removing. “

There is a large screen which is connected to an underwater camera which monitors the skimming of the contaminated water. The water then flows through large pipes and out into 20,000 gallon tanks.

“They’re going to sample it once we get a good amount of water out of it, and we’ll see how efficient we are and eventually continue to improve our skimming operations on another device or make minor changes.” . to see if we can improve in what we’re doing, but we’re making some progress, ”added Castillo III.

On Sunday, the Navy said it was still filling the number one tank. From there, the experts will test the water and determine the ratio of fresh water to contaminated water.

“This will help the Navy move on to the next repair steps and get it back to a safe state,” Castillo III said.

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Some of the divers working on the task live in areas affected by water.

“We have guys who are working on this job right now who are affected by it,” Akey explained. “So that affects us, and we’re really trying to do it in the safest and most efficient way possible. “

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