Four families previously posted to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham have filed a federal lawsuit against the United States alleging that the Navy contaminated the base’s water supply with jet fuel and failed to notify base residents. The lawsuit alleges “negligence, trespass, nuisance, and medical malpractice resulting in physical and emotional injuries.”
According to the lawsuit, tens of thousands of gallons of jet fuel were released from the Red Hill fuel storage facility located near the base into the drinking water supply and the Navy didn’t say a single word indicating that the water might be unsafe to consume. In fact, families involved in the lawsuit say that the Navy worked to downplay the incident after the release – believed to have been caused by operator error – and waited nearly two weeks before indicating that the spill had even occurred. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that residents “were literally smelling gasoline in their sinks” after the spill.
The results of inadvertently consuming jet fuel for a prolonged period of time have been traumatic. Military doctors denied toxicology testing to those who complained of symptoms including intense pain and suffering, internal bleeding, and gastrointestinal issues. Additional complaints included seizures, lesions, and migraine headaches.
Residents of Oahu are watching the proceedings carefully, as the impact of the spill may not be limited solely to Joint Base Pearl Harbor. The fuel storage facility is positioned directly above a water source that supplies the base as well as tens of thousands of non-military residents of the island.
The lawsuit was filed under provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act and seeks compensation for physical impairment, suffering, and future illnesses that could be experienced as a result of being poisoned by the fuel. Multiple compounds in jet fuel are known to be carcinogenic and associated with a variety of cancers and other illnesses.