PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii ( Associated Press) – A Navy investigation released Thursday revealed poor governance and human error caused fuel to leak into Pearl Harbor’s tap water last year, poisoning thousands of people and forcing military families have to evacuate their homes to 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 tank in the hills above Pearl Harbor, leaked into a well that supplied water to housing and offices. in and around Pearl Harbor.
The report listed a series of errors from May 6, 2021, when operator error caused a pipe to burst and spilled 21,000 gallons of fuel when fuel was transferred between tanks. The fuel spilled into a line of fire suppression, sat there for six months and then spilled again when a car crashed into it on November 20th.
Military medical teams examined about 6,000 people for nausea, headaches, rashes and other symptoms. The military dragged about 4,000 mostly military families into hotels for months while they waited for their water to be safe again.
The report said officials failed to accept the best about what happened when the spills occurred, instead of assuming the worst, and this contributed to them ignoring the seriousness of the situation.
Adm. Sam Paparo, the commander of the US Pacific Fleet, told reporters at a news conference that the fleet was trying to move away from it. He called it an ongoing process “to really get on with ourselves” and “to be honest about our shortcomings.”
The report said the investigation revealed that poor training and supervision, ineffective leadership and an absence of ownership regarding operational safety also contributed to the incident.
“The lack of critical thinking, intellectual rigor and self-evaluation by key leaders at crucial moments illustrated a culture of complacency and demonstrated a lack of professionalism required by the high-impact nature of fuel operations,” the report said.