A U.S. Navy report said contamination of Pearl Harbor water in 2021 was caused by human error after two fuel spills leaked into Red Hill well. The Navy released a de-fueling plan for the Red Hill storage facility Thursday. Photo by Amanda R. Gray/U.S. Navy
July 1 (UPI) -- A U.S. Navy investigation has determined that contamination of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii drinking water in 2021 was the result of human error in handling two fuel spills from the Red Hill fuel storage facility.
As a result of these mishandled spills, Department of Defense Thursday released a de-fueling plan for the Red Hill facility to be completed by the end of 2024.
Safe drinking water was restored to Pearl Harbor on March 19, 2022, according to Hawaii's Department of Health, after two fuel leak incidents at Red Hill -- one May 6, 2021, and the other on Nov. 20.
According to the Navy, 19,377 gallons of jet fuel leaked from Red Hill on Nov. 20, contaminating the water.
"The November spill, which was the source of the contamination that reached the Red Hill well, was the result of human error exacerbated by poor Red Hill support system design and implementation," the Navy report said.
According to the Navy report, "a Red Hill watch stander inadvertently struck a low point drain valve in the AFFF retention line with the passenger cart of a train, cracking the PVC pipe and spilling up to 19,377 gallons of fuel."
The U.S. Navy report on the mishandling of the spills said that, while there were other contributing factors, the contamination was "the result of human error primarily derived from insufficient human performance enhancement, assessment and feedback processes needed to support effective incident response actions."
The Navy report said in the May 6 spill, Red Hill fuels storage facility operators "improperly executed a fuel transfer procedure, resulting in two piping joint ruptures and a subsequent spill" of jet fuel.