A World War II Era underground storage tank containing over 100 million gallons of jet fuel at the Red Hill Fuel Facility has been leaking into the aquifer that provides water to the people of Oahu. Until recently, the Navy denied there were leaks or that the water was unsafe despite multiple complaints of health problems and an oil sheen found in the tap water. Now, the Oahu Water Protectors have gained the Navy’s attention and that of local and state elected officials. Wayne Tanaka of the Sierra Club of Hawaii speaks with Clearing the FOG about the fuel facility, what is at stake and how they are organizing to hold the US Navy accountable and shut the facility down. He also discusses the bigger picture of the environmental destruction caused by the US Military and its occupation of Hawai’i.
Wayne Tanaka became the Director for the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi in October of 2021. Wayne has committed his adult life to protecting Hawaiʻi’s diverse environment and the unique culture that grows along with it.
Wayne came to the Club after serving for a decade in the Public Policy Program at the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. His passion for native ecosystems and community-based resource management also led him to serve on the Board of Directors of the Conservation Council for Hawaiʻi, and on the founding board of the then-newly minted Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo. He has also authored and co-authored book chapters and essays on konohiki fishing rights, Papahānaumokuākea, nearshore fisheries management, indigenous food sovereignty, and the intersection of race and politics in Hawaiʻi, among other topics.
He is a licensed attorney and an engineer. He is a graduate of University of Hawaiʻi’s William S. Richardson School of Law, Harvey Mudd College, and Punahou School.
Wayne grew up on Oʻahu, exploring the tide pools of Wāwāmalu, the streams of Kāne‘ohe and He‘eia, and the ridgelines of the Koʻolau mountain range. He enjoys fishing and cooking what he catches.