HONOLULU — A hearings officer ruled Monday that the Department of Health’s emergency order, which mandated the U.S. Navy’s Red Hill storage facility must be emptied of fuel, should be upheld in its entirety. 

The hearings officer’s recommendation will now be considered by the Hawaii Department of Health Director, who will make the final decision. 

Along with saying the 20 fuel tanks at the Red Hill storage facility must be emptied, the Department of Health’s emergency order that was issued on Dec. 7 said the Navy must suspend operations at the Red Hill Storage Facility and take measures to treat contaminated drinking water at the Red Hill shaft. 

The day after the emergency order was issued, the U.S. Navy said it would fight the order. However, the Navy has said it previously suspended operations at the Red Hill storage facility. 

The Department of Health’s emergency order was made after fuel was confirmed to have leaked from the Red Hill storage facility into the U.S. Navy’s water system. 

In a contested case hearing held last week, Earthjustice — on behalf of the Sierra Club — and the Board of Water Supply intervened in the case, arguing along with the Department of Health that the environment and health of the people of Hawaii were in “imminent peril.”

“The Red Hill Facility, as currently configured and operated, constitutes an imminent peril to human health and safety or the environment. An emergency does exist,” said David Day, the hearings officer, in his 33-page ruling. 

The U.S. Navy argued in last week’s contest case hearing that the fuel was necessary for military purposes. 

“The importance of the Red Hill Facility as fuel storage for the U.S. military has been considered, but it carries no substantial weight in this proceeding,” the ruling read.

The hearings were held over two days — Dec. 20 and 21 — and included testimony from the public, elected officials and U.S. Navy officials. After Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary James Balocki's statement that he didn't consider the situation a crisis, Hawaii Rep. Kai Kahale called for an apology.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy Meredith Berger later issued an apology.