NOAA Hosts Coast Guard Rear Admiral at Inouye Regional Center in Preparation for New Regional Activities Center
MAY 22, 2023 — On May 11, 2023, the OR&R Scientific Support Coordinator for the Pacific Islands, Ruth Yender, hosted U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Rear Admiral (RDML) Jo-Ann Burdian at the Inouye Regional Center (IRC) on Oahu's Ford Island. RDML Burdian toured space at the IRC that will soon be occupied by a new USCG Indo-Pacific Regional Activities Center (IndoPAC RAC). The mission of the six-person IndoPAC RAC is to build response capacity in the region and to help partner nations implement International Maritime Organization Conventions on marine pollution. RDML Burdian was also introduced to NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries staff who are helping facilitate use of IRC office space for the new USCG Center.
RDML Burdian is the Coast Guard Assistant Commandant for Response Policy. In this capacity, she is responsible for the development of strategic response doctrine and policy guidance for all Coast Guard forces. These policies encompass seven of the eleven operational maritime missions in the areas of law enforcement, search and rescue, maritime security, counterterrorism, defense operations, marine environmental response, and emergency management and disaster response programs.
After the IRC visit, the Scientific Support Coordinator joined RDML Burdian on a tour of the U.S. Navy Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. The Red Hill facility, built in the 1940s, consists of 20 steel-lined tanks, encased in concrete, and built into cavities that were mined inside of Red Hill in Oahu. Each tank has a storage capacity of approximately 12.5 million gallons of fuel. The tanks are connected to three pipelines that run 2.5 miles through a tunnel to fueling piers at Pearl Harbor. The Red Hill facility lies above an aquifer that helps provide water for nearly 25 percent of Oahu residents. In late November 2021, a jet fuel release from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility contaminated the Red Hill drinking water well. Due to the threat to the aquifer from past and potential future petroleum releases, the Navy is in the process of closing the Red Hill facility. The Emergency Response Division of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration has provided technical support to the USCG, Navy, and State of Hawaii in their response planning efforts to be prepared in the event of a petroleum release to Pearl Harbor during defueling operations.