The U.S. Navy is now investigating the source of the media leak, which shows an estimated 20,000 gallons of fuel entering the Red Hill tunnel in Hawaii.
A dramatic video hidden for six months by the U.S. Navy shows 20,000 gallons of jet fuel spraying into a Red Hill tunnel for 34 hours. The fuel entered a floor drain that sent thousands of gallons into the water supply of 93,000 residents.
The video surfaced on July 5 after an undisclosed Navy employee made it public.
The video was taken by an employee whose cart ran into a pipe that broke, allowing the jet fuel to spray. Now that is available to the public, the Navy is investigating the media leak of the video. For seven months it told the state of Hawai’i, its congressional delegation and the public that the leak did not exist.
Earthjustice attorney David Henkin said that it’s
“pretty offensive that they would go after someone that is providing information that the public has a right to see… That they are not apologetic for not releasing this information to the public and instead are trying to stomp it out is really offensive.”
The video surfaced only days after the Navy attempted, on June 30, a midnight out-of-sight release of a stunning January 2022 investigative report of the March and November 2022 massive leaks of jet fuel.
The Honolulu Board of Water Supply and community groups including Sierra Club-Hawaii, Earthjustice and Oahu Water Protectors had strongly called in town hall meetings and in writing for the release of the investigation throughout the delay of six months between the writing of the report and its release.
On transparency and trust of the Navy, Ernie Lau, the chief engineer of Honolulu’s Board of Water Supply, says,
“This whole issue of transparency has always been a challenge. They (the Navy) can provide the rhetoric to say that they will be transparent and build trust. But it’s really the actions that are not consistent with that rhetoric that demonstrates that they’re not being actually transparent, and that there may be more information that’s available that could be very valuable in looking at what was the scope and magnitude of the problem, and what we need to do to recover the aquifer from contamination.”
The January 2022 report finally released on June 30 stated in remarkable candor for an internal Navy investigation that “laid bare the human errors and systemic negligence that allowed two catastrophic leaks to occur within months of each other.”
Rear Admiral Christopher Cavanaugh’s investigative report revealed “there was a culture of disregarding procedures, poor training and supervision, ineffective command, a lack of ownership over operational safety, a lack of timely, accurate and thorough reporting, and a flawed investigation into the May spill.”
In the November 2021 leak, the Navy initially said that 14,000 gallons of fuel and water were released, but in fact, the Cavanaugh report says the pipeline was holding 16,999 gallons of jet fuel, which was released on “full blast.”
The investigative findings mirror the community’s decade-long concerns that Red Hill is fundamentally unsafe, a contention that the Navy denied for years — until the June 30 release of the January investigation.
“They were right,” Adm. Sam Paparo, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told Civil Beat after a press conference to discuss the findings. “The Navy was wrong to say that it was safe. That is clearly evident in the outcome.”
Ann Wright is a 29-year U.S. Army/Army Reserves veteran who retired as a colonel and a former U.S. diplomat who resigned in March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She served in Nicaragua, Grenada, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. In December 2001 she was on the small team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. She is the co-author of the book Dissent: Voices of Conscience.
This article is from Common Dreams.