The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Navy Contaminates Hawaii

Mar 14, 2022

On November 4, 2021, about 14,000 gallons of jet fuel and contaminated water leaked from the Red Hill fuel storage system into the drinking water well near Honolulu, Hawaii. Within days, 6,000 residents and military personnel and their families at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam began suffering nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, and rashes from contaminated tap water. Four thousand military families were moved to hotels.

But this is far from the worst jet fuel leak there. In 2014 nearly twice as much spilled. Around 180,000 gallons have leaked since the tanks were built after World War II—the equivalent of one or two large swimming pools every decade. The storage system holds 200 million gallons of jet fuel in underground tanks above the aquifer, with pipes regularly refilling warships and warplanes.

Finally on March 7, the Pentagon promised to permanently close the system, safely drain the tanks, and develop a safe new fuel storage facility. But why believe anything officials say? After the 2014 leak, the EPA, Hawaii’s health department, and the Pentagon signed confidentiality agreements pledging not to disclose information about work on the fuel system. After 40 million dollars in supposed upgrades last decade, Navy officials claimed they didn’t even know the faulty drain line existed!

Pearl Harbor-Hickam is a major base and dry dock serving the Navy’s biggest aircraft carriers. America’s firepower in Asia relies heavily on the base. But fuel spills and cover-ups are poisoning the residents on a regular basis. Finally, the workers and residents here are also victims of the products they are paid to produce to kill others in war. Troops and spouses spoke angrily at a December 1 town hall and protested alongside longtime island residents. The leak threatens 93,000 people in that area of the island of Oahu, with the soil and groundwater permanently tainted.