Fuel Leak at Pearl Harbor Poisoned Thousands, Navy Report Says

After multiple errors at the fuel storage facility that poisoned Pearl Harbor water with a fuel leak, around 6,000 people were treated for nausea, headaches, rashes, and other illnesses, the Navy report on tainted water said.

Following the last year’s investigation that has revealed that multiple mistakes and mismanagement caused fuel to leak into Pearl Harbor’s tap water, the US Navy is now planning to defuel Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

Red Hill is a massive World War II-era military-run tank farm in the hills above Pearl Harbor.

The Navy’s investigation was released on Thursday by the Hawaiʻi Department of Health which stressed that about 4,000 mostly military families were forced to evacuate their homes after thousands of people were poisoned after poor management and human error caused fuel leak from the Red Hill facility into a well that supplied water to housing and officers in and around Pearl Harbor.

While they waited for their water to be safe again, the moved military families were settled into hotels for months.

The Deputy Director of Environmental Health Kathleen Ho stressed in a statement that Red Hill must be shut down as quickly as possible, noting their expectations that the Navy will marshal all possible available resources to defuel and decommission the facility.

Ho also pointed out that their first priority continues to be the sake of the people and environment of Hawai‘i and ensuring that all defueling activities are performed safely considering the Navy’s history of spills from unsafe pipelines and the need for extensive repairs.

The report, which emphasized that the military failed to recognize the severity of the situation, pointed out that the issue stemmed from a series of mistakes that started in May 2021.

In an incident caused by the operator error, a pipe ruptured resulting in a spill of 21,000 gallons of fuel – that was being transferred between tanks – into a fire suppression line where it sat for six months before spilling again in November when a cart rammed into it.

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