Navy Water Contamination Lawsuits Filed Over Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Leaks in Hawaii

Hundreds of families have reported illnesses and petroleum odors linked to drinking water contamination caused by recent fuel spills.

As the U.S. government faces thousands of Camp Lejeune water contamination lawsuits over injuries linked to toxins that contaminated drinking water on the North Carolina base for decades, a new group of lawsuits are being pursued in Hawaii involving injuries from leaks at the Navy’s Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility.

Late last month, a complaint (PDF) was filed by four families under the Federal Tort Claims Act in the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii, which is expected to be the first of several hundred Red Hill fuel leak lawsuits that will be brought.

The lawsuit alleges that the U.S. government was negligent and failed to disclose two separate jet fuel leaks that contaminated  O’ahu drinking and bathing water, exposing nearly 100,000 local military families and residents to a risk of serious injury.

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Red Hill Water Contamination Lawsuits

Were you or a loved one diagnosed with an injury after exposure to contaminated water from the U.S. Navy Red Hill Underground Fuel Storage Facility?


Navy water contamination lawsuit comes as the Department of Defense and the Hawaii Department of Health are still scrambling to restore consumable water for O’ahu, Hawaii residents, after two jet fuel leaks contaminated the local water supply in May 2021, and then again last November.

Red Hill O’ahu Hawaii Drinking Water Contamination

Located near the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Honolulu, Hawaii, the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility supports military and Naval operations for the U.S. in the Pacific, and holds up to 250 million gallons of fuel. However, the storage tanks are housed in close proximity to the Southern Oʻahu Basal Aquifer, which is the primary source of drinking water for more than 400,000 people.

On May 6, and November 20, 2021, U.S. Naval personnel at Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility reportedly made errors that released petroleum jet fuel and several other toxic chemicals into the Red Hill drinking water well that provides drinking, bathing and residential water to approximately 93,000 military service members and residents.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports hundreds of families, living on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) and the Army’s Aliamanu Military Reservation and Red Hill Housing have reported petroleum odors coming from the tap water supplied by the Navy water systems. Many have reported becoming ill with serious illnesses and side effects from the water contamination.

The May 6, 2021, jet fuel leak from the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility was caused by a pressure surge event that occurred during routine fuel movement. According to the EPA’s reports, a pipeline joint failure caused over 19,000 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel to enter containment trenches and a fire suppression system fluid sump. The fuel was then pushed down the tunnel in a fire suppression system fluid drain pipeline, where the fuel remained until the drain pipeline ruptured on November 20, 2021.

The EPA’s states the ruptured pipeline allowed thousands of gallons of petroleum to spill into the Red Hill drinking water system shaft, exposing thousands to cancer causing chemicals such as benzene, PFAS and other toxic substances.

Red Hill Water Contamination Lawsuit Allegations

According to the recently filed Red Hill water contamination lawsuit filed by the Feindt, Freeman, Simic and Wyatt families, the Navy not only negligently allowed nearly 20,000 gallons of fuel to spill into local drinking water, but also failed to warn residents of the chemical spill.

The families claim the Navy was aware of the underground storage tank chemical spill by November 20, 2021, but failed to follow their legal obligations in notifying the EPA and recipients. It was not until December 2, 2021 that the Navy finally announced it had detected petroleum in the Red Hill water supply,

The lawsuit states the same water being supplied to residents was sampled and tested, finding levels of hydrocarbons and gasoline upward of 20,000 parts per billion. The current EPA actionable levels for petroleum hydrocarbons and gasoline is 300 parts per billion.

The plaintiffs claim they have suffered devastating injuries, both physically and mentally from the Navy’s negligence. Reported side effects include seizures, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological issues, burns, rashes, lesions, thyroid abnormalities, migraines, neurobehavioral challenges, behavioral issues in children and other abnormalities.

Not only have suffered serious and life-altering injuries, but the plaintiffs also indicate they have suffered financial losses after being forced to spend their savings to move away from the contaminated area.

The complaint seeks to recover damages as a result of the alleged negligence and failures of the federal government and its actors for past and future medical expenses, loss of enjoyment of life, past and future pain and suffering, loss of earnings and potential, loss of property, among others

To date, at least 186 similar claims against the Navy have been made under the Federal Tort Claims act over the Red Hill water contamination, while thousands more are expected to be filed in the coming months by service members, their families and residents that were impacted by the chemical spill.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

The allegations surrounding the Red Hill fuel leaks echo allegations that have been made about the U.S. Military’s handling of contaminated water at Camp Lejeune Marine military base in North Carolina, where it has been discovered that toxic chemicals in the water system from at least the mid-1950s through late 1980s.

Unlike the problems at Red Hill, the Camp Lejeune water contamination was not confirmed until years after Marines, family members and others living on the base had already been suffering long-term health complications. While a number of lawsuits throughout the 1990s and 2000s, the U.S. government was able to get those claims dismissed under the 10 year statute of limitations in North Carolina, and routinely denied Camp Lejeune water disability claims for years.

However, that has all changed in recent months, after the Camp Lejeune Justice Act of 2022 was enacted in August 2022, allowing individuals injured by the water at Camp Lejeune to file a lawsuit over the next two years.

Camp Lejeune Water Contamination Lawsuit

Suffer From Health Issues Due To The Water At Camp Lejeune?

Water contamination at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina between 1953 and 1987 caused cancers, birth defects, miscarriages and other side effects for U.S. Marines and their family members.

Learn More About this Lawsuit See If You Qualify For Compensation

More than a million Marines and their family members were exposed to contaminated Camp Lejeune water between the early 1950s and late 1980s, with some estimates suggesting that toxic chemicals from Camp Lejeune may be responsible for more than 50,000 cases of breast cancer, 28,000 cases of bladder cancer, and 24,000 cases of renal cancer, as well as thousands of cases involve Parkinson’s disease and other health complications. It is also believed that Camp Lejeune water caused birth defects and wrongful death for thousands of unborn children exposed in utero.

During the first month after new landmark legislation went into effect for toxic military exposures, the U.S. government has already received about 5,000 Camp Lejeune water contamination claims submitted by veterans, military family members and others injured by contaminants which impacted the Marine base between 1953 and 1987.

However, it is widely expected that hundreds of thousands of cases will ultimately be presented over the next two years by individuals who have been diagnosed with various cancers Parkinson’s disease and other side effects linked to Camp Lejeune water, and is expected to become the largest mass tort litigation in U.S. history.


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