Military’s Red Hill response should be considered
Defense News reported on March 29 that the Department of Defense has zeroed out funding for the Homeland Defense Radar-Hawaii (HDR-H) for 2023, for the third consecutive year.
The HDR-H is a massive radar complex proposed for PMRF that would overwhelm Kaua‘i’s capacity to build or host it.
The DOD liked the HDR-H in 2018 when it was introduced, but recent advances in missile technology have rendered it obsolete. From the Feb. 11, 2020 Defense News, Missile Defense Agency Director Adm. Jon Hill said he decided to “hit the brakes.”
Significantly, Hill said the agency decided to “push (the HDR-H) to the right because of host nation issues we have to come through.”
Kaua‘i residents of Hawaiian lineage who value their culture, take note.
The DOD has confirmed a PFAS contamination event at PMRF. PFAS, polyfluoroalkuyl Substance, is the acronym for polyfluoroalkyl substance, a class of chemicals present in foam fire retardants. It is hazardous in extremely small quantities in the environment. It accumulates in the tissues of plants and animals, and because it does not biodegrade, it is called “the forever chemical.” Potential adverse impacts are delayed childhood development, liver damage, thyroid disease and cancer.
The DOD reported that 3,000 gallons of retardant spilled from a truck at PMRF on Feb. 23, 2022. A smaller spill happened in Feb. 2020. It’s not encouraging that it took an investigative outreach by a University of Hawai‘i professor to get the military to reveal these events.
The same failure to publicly disclose a crisis they should have seen coming at Red Hill has played out with a dangerous chemical spill here on Kaua‘i, and now it is a cautionary heads up, as the comment period for the HDR-H environmental impact statement, where the public can react, is at hand.
The MDA’s FAQ sheet lists a witch’s brew of chemicals the radar would require: lubricants, solvents, heavy metals, pesticides and coolants, and 150,000 gallons of stored diesel fuel for the backup generator. All just a few hundred yards from the ocean, in a tsunami zone.
We are experiencing cognitive dissonance as our long held trust that our military keeps us safe conflicts with convincing evidence to the contrary.
U.S. Rep. Kai Kahele said in a Dec. 9, 2021 Civil Beat article, “We’ve got a proud military tradition in Hawai‘i. But what’s happening right now and how the Navy and U.S. military responds to (Red Hill) will determine their future in Hawai‘i.”
The HDR-H is being kept alive by piecemeal appropriations by the Hawai‘i delegation. U.S. Sens. Mazie Hirono and Brian Schatz recently used the “earmark” process in Congress to secure a $19 million appropriation. The definitions of “earmark” and “pork barrel spending” are nearly the same.
Our delegation should heed Kahele’s words. The public’s perception of the military’s commitment, as well as their own, to the Hawai‘i public’s well being is in the balance.
Kip Goodwin, Wailua
Source: The Garden Island