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Navy Reveals That Poor Leadership Led to Fuel Leaking into Pearl Harbor Water Supply, Poisoning Thousands


A key fuel storage facility in Pearl Harbor is about to be shut down following a Navy investigation.

The investigation revealed that several mistakes were made, starting in May of last year, which led to thousands of people becoming poisoned by fuel-contaminated water.

It all began when an operator broke a pipe that was being moved, which led to tens of thousands of gallons of oil becoming spilled.

Much of the 21,000 gallons of oil sat idly for six months in a fire suppression line.

On November 20th, a cart rammed into the sagging line, releasing 20,000 gallons.

After the team incorrectly assumed that all the fuel had been sopped up, it slowly seeped into the Red Hill well, which then pumped into the Navy system.

6,000 people suffered headaches, nausea, rashes, and other symptoms.

The Associated Press reports:

A Navy investigation released Thursday revealed that shoddy management and human error caused fuel to leak into Pearl Harbor’s tap water last year, poisoning thousands of people and forcing military families to evacuate their homes for hotels.

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.

After months of resistance, the military in April agreed to an order from the state of Hawaii to drain the tanks and close the Red Hill facility. A separate report the Defense Department provided to the state Department of Health on Thursday said December 2024 was the earliest it could defuel the tanks safely.

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.

Daily Mail has more on the side effects suffered by 6,000 people:

About 6,000 people suffered nausea, headaches, rashes and other symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) surveyed more than 2,000 people affected by the crisis — published in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports — on the symptoms they suffered after using the contaminated water.

Participants were most likely to say they had suffered a headache (58 percent of respondents), dry or itchy skin (50 percent), and diarrhea (49 percent).

Other common symptoms included nausea (41 percent), irritation and burning in the eyes (38 percent), and a burning sensation in the throat (32 percent).

The CDC said the surveys findings were ‘consistent’ with previous symptoms reported from petrol exposure.


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