US Navy to close refueling facility at Pearl Harbor after fuel leak poisons thousands in and around the base
07/05/2022 // Kevin Hughes // Views

The United States Navy is planning to close down a key fuel storage facility at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii after an investigation discovered that poor management and several errors at the facility caused a fuel leak in the tap water system that poisoned thousands of people last year.

"The investigation is the first detailed account of how jet fuel from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility, a massive World War II-era military-run tank farm in the hills above Pearl Harbor, leaked into a well that supplied water to housing and offices in and around the sprawling base. Some 6,000 people suffered nausea, headaches, rashes and other symptoms," the Associated Press said in a report.

Hawaii Department of Health Deputy Director Kathleen Ho said the facility needs to be "shut down as quickly as possible" and the state expects "the Navy will marshal all possible available resources to defuel and decommission the facility."

"However, with the extensive repairs needed and the Navy's history of spills from unsafe pipelines, our first priority continues to be ensuring that all defueling activities are performed safely for the sake of the people and environment of Hawaii," Ho added.

The investigation discovered that the mistakes began in May 2021 when an operator caused a pipe to break while it was being moved, contributing to tens of thousands of gallons of oil being spilled.

"The investigation report listed a cascading series of mistakes from May 6, 2021, when operator error caused a pipe to rupture and 21,000 gallons (80,000 liters) of fuel to spill when fuel was being transferred between tanks. Most of this fuel spilled into a fire suppression line and sat there for six months, causing the line to sag. A cart rammed into this sagging line on Nov. 20, releasing 20,000 gallons (75,700 liters) of fuel," reported AP.


"The team incorrectly assumes that all of the fuel has been sopped up. Meanwhile, over the course of eight days, that fuel enters this French drain that is under the concrete and seeps slowly and quietly into the Red Hill well. And that fuel into the Red Hill well is then pumped into the Navy system," said Admiral Sam Paparo, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The Department of Defense (DOD) stated that it would take nearly two years for the tanks to be defueled in a safe manner.

Red Hill officials said only 1,618 gallons had leaked during the May spill and they were able to recover all but 38 gallons. They noted that one of the tanks was 20,000 gallons short but thought it had flowed through the pipes and didn't know it had gone into the fire suppression line.

The discrepancy was not reported to senior leadership.

When people began to get sick, the military moved around 4,000 mainly military families into hotels for months.

Spill contaminated the Navy's water system

The Navy's water system was contaminated by the spill, but the fuel didn't get into the Honolulu municipal water supply. However, concerns that the oil might move through the aquifer and enter the city's wells prompted the Honolulu Board of Water Supply in December to shut down a key well serving some 400,000 people. (Related: Pollution in the ground water: Well water in Maine is contaminated with PFAs, and it’s compounding)

The agency has been requesting residents to conserve water because of the incident and extremely dry weather.

The report added that officials reneged on presuming the best about what was occurring when the spills happened rather than assuming the worst, and this led to their overlooking the harshness of the situation.

Paparo stated the Navy was trying to move away from that situation and called it a continuing process "to get real with ourselves" and "being honest about our deficiencies."

He suggested that the Navy review operations at 48 defense fuel storage facilities around the world.

"We cannot assume Red Hill represents an outlier, and similar problems may exist at other locations," Paparo said in the report.

The report added that the investigation concluded that inadequate training and supervision, inefficient leadership and lack of ownership concerning operational safety have contributed to the incident.

Watch the video below about the Navy abandoning the victims of Red Hill fuel leak.

This video is from the Fearless Nation channel on

More related stories:

Toxic chemicals leak from US base in Okinawa, threatening the health of residents.

Brighteon Conversations: America’s water supply has been systematically poisoned long before COVID.

Americans are most worried about water pollution, survey reveals.

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