Tag Archives: environment

U.S. Pentagon to Shut Down Red Hill Aged Fuel Tank Facility

OAHU: Once in a while, the Stars and the Moon and the Sun line up and right decisions happen. Add to that, the tipping point of an epic disaster, election time, and public demand for accountability of this very neglected and ignored issue. Environmental Groups and the public have been raising concerns about this for years!

These underground tanks were built around 1940. These underground tanks were used to store fuel for use at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam to refuel ships, aircrafts and assisting in the Pacific-Indo areas.

Building the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Tanks Was a Good Idea Then

Conceived in the early years of World War II as a plan to bury four fuel containers horizontally in a hillside at the U.S. Navy facility at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, the Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility ultimately encompassed the design and construction of 20 vertical storage tanks – each large enough to contain a 20-story building – buried in the volcanic hillside and connected by tunnels to a harbor-side pumping station more than two-and-a-half miles away.

Using existing rock as a construction shell, the project made use of innovative mining and construction methods that included building each tank from a central vertical shaft drilled 30 feet in diameter and removing all excavated rock through an elaborate system of conveyor belts specially made by the Goodrich Tire Company. Protecting more than 250 million gallons of fuel used by Navy fleets around the world, the Red Hill facility has operated virtually unchanged since its completion.

The Red Hill Fuel Tanks Have Expired Useful Life Span

For every project, there is a Useful Shelf Life attached to it. These underground fuel tanks are beyond its life-span. Their deteriorating metal tanks through the years and other factors are leakiing contaminations into the drinking water in the area. Military families and children and civilians are suffering the consequences of disruptions, including health problems.

For many years, Mr. Ernie Lau, the Board of Water Chief Engineer, has been voicing serious concerns about the potential contamination of Oahu’s drinking water. He was the voice in the wilderness. Environmental groups like Sierra Club have also raised concerns. But their advocacy fell on deaf ears till the tipping point happened recently.

The Pentagon and Navy Needs Support as Well

The military made the right decision with this direction. We must also support the military in its efforts to protect national security by exploring alternatives. Whether we like it or not, we have enemies in this world. Being prepared is part of national security. Peace comes from strength. And being prepared.

Laie Point Cliff Collapse – Erosion or Shoreline Set Back Violations?

Laniloa Point aka “Laie Point” in Laie, Oahu is a peninsula that juts into the ocean.

The peninsula rises to higher elevation (40-45 feet) at the Laie Point Lookout. A small part of the Peninsula is connected at ground level by Clissolds Beach aka Bikini Beach. However, most of the Point peninsula drop into the ocean waters with no sandy beach below.

Several Point properties have carved steps on the 40-feet shoreline setback in their backyards to gain access to the ocean waters.

On October 1, 2018 a resident was walking along Clissolds Beach and noticed huge quantities of fresh naupaka foliage with its roots washed up along the shores. She had not seen this the day before. It was estimated that this cliff collapse triggered at 55-064 Naupaka Street happened in the early morning of October 1, 2018.

I live next door to this property. My house is the one on the far right. We built this home with our mason friend, Wahanui Elkington and other construction friends about 25 years ago.

Our next door neighbors then (subject white roof house with safety netting) were friendly and open. It was just the two of them senior citizens. They let the surrounding neighborhood children visit them at will. She loved children. They had a grand piano. They had a small Koi pond. We visited often. He even showed me the natural fissure in their shoreline set back  and suggested carving steps to access to the waters below, together. We both didn’t do anything about it. She passed away first. Her husband later sold the property in 2007 to the current owner from California.

This property would turn into an Airbnb vacation rental. Many illegal vacation rental impacts problems ensued.

We would be subjected to loud partying, be woken up by loud quarrels and so on. Their hot tub was first situated next to our yard boundary but would later be relocated even closer to the ocean. There would then be a fire pit with smoke coming our way.

We would hear jack-hammering. Sometimes I would even hear jack-hammering in the darkness but it would stop after I turned on our deck porch lights. These hammering, chipping, terracing and fillings into the  40 feet shoreline set back began around 2012. I heard the jack hammering and also felt the vibrations through the years.

As recently as last month, a local fisherman attested to hammering activities then in facebook comments. The local fisherman also commented he was told he was not allowed to fish from the cliff ledge.

Another local fisherman commented he could no longer fish there because of the cliff collapse. His fishing spot has disappeared. There was a parameter foot path along the cliff ledge  where local fishermen used. That path is now cut short.

Airbnb Guest reviews in 2013 also reveal the “carving” into the 40 feet setback on the cliff for a hot tub and other amenities to be closer to the ocean.

Photos of the Airbnb vacation rental website, closed as of October 14, 2018, also showed the encroachments and placement of amenities into the 40-feet shoreline setback.

Through the years, the operators – Eric Orr – Property Manager, of this illegal vacation rental encroached and violated Hawaii’s 40-feet shoreline setback. These continuing encroachments into the 40-feet shoreline set back crept closer and closer to the edge of the cliff and ocean.

I emailed the property owner who lives at Dana Point, California about this cliff collapse on October 1, 2018. His response was that it was an “erosion”.  He said to contact his property manager who also claimed “erosion” and that he was in no way responsible for the cliff collapse.  Their seven Airbnb online websites for Laie have been discontinued as of October 14, 2018.

As of October 15, 2018, the  Honolulu City and County Department of Planning and Permitting has issued a NOTICE OF VIOLATION to the owners in California – “Development work within the 40-ft shoreline setback, but not limited to, including a CMU fish pond, hot tub, and a circular stone fire pit-type structure are to be removed and so forth.

The Notice of Violation also stated for owners to “Restore the area immediately . . .”

How does one restore the irreparable carved out cliff top and portions of the collapsed cliff?

What is the relevance of the 40-feet shoreline set back in Hawaii?

What do you think?  Is it Erosion or did  the 40-feet shoreline set back violations through years of jack hammering, terracing, fillings, and other activities to get closer and closer to the waters contributed to the cliff collapse into the ocean?  

Additional Photos Taken October 3, 2018

Photos below expose the leveled area, fillings, and missing retaining wall at the trigger spot of the cliff collapse.

Photos below show portions of a natural vertical fissure (left) in this property.

October 17, 2018 Photos Taken BELOW Portions of the leveled area/retaining wall collapsed into the waters. A new bamboo screen and other accessories are seen. New palm frond debris now cover the surface edge of collapsed cliff top.

The hot tub below has been lifted up from its position onto the fire pit area, exposing  grading on cliff surface inside the 40-feet shoreline setback.  Other portions have further been terraced and leveled towards the ocean.

1-29-2013 Laie Point  Google Image (below) showed a “fisherman’s foot path” along the cliff’s edge known to locals.

April 2017 These images below were shared on YouTube, showing sprawl towards the natural fissure in the 40-feet shoreline setback.


UPDATE:  Property Manager Eric Orr later contacted Honolulu City and County DPP Inspector: On Tue, Oct 23, 2018 at 12:59 PM Hirano, Lester <lhirano@honolulu.gov> wrote:

Good afternoon, Choon,

Thanks for the heads-up concerning the edge of the cliff.  I really appreciate your concern for our safety and I’ll be careful not to get too close to the edge!

This morning I received a call from the agent/tenant, Eric Orr who admitted to jackhammering the cliff side in order to carve out a stairway to the rocks at the base of the cliff.

Therefore, since Eric admitted to doing the jackhammering and causing the collapse, the City will now be working on creating a notice of violation to the owner and tenant for causing the cliff side collapse.

Just FYI, I have made an appointment to meet with Eric at the property this Friday at 2pm. In order to observe the progress he’s made in removing the items within the shoreline setback which the City cited him for.

And thank you as well for offering even further assistance than you already have in the form of additional drone flights.  The photos you provided from previous drone flights were extremely useful in pinpointing the problem areas of the subject property.

I’ll let you know when and how the City will be taking action against the owner and agent as soon as I confer with the other DPP planners.”


The Public, fishermen, neighbors and community have yet to receive a response from those responsible – no apologies for destroying a natural resource for their profits; no apologies for destroying the local fishermen’s path; no apologies for destroying our land area. The State of Hawaii needs to tighten the laws and treat this as a crime for those who INTENTIONALLY violate the shoreline management setback laws for their illegal profits and greed and no respect for the aina.