Nov 12, 2022 - Energy & Environment

100 plaintiffs join lawsuit against Navy facility's fuel-tainted water

A warning sign posted at one of the entrance gates to Red Hill in Honolulu, HI on December 11, 2021.

A warning sign posted at one of the entrance gates to Red Hill in Honolulu, HI on December 11, 2021. Photo: Marie Eriel Hobro/For the Washington Post

More than 100 new plaintiffs have joined an ongoing lawsuit against the United States government over water contamination at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility in Hawaii, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The plaintiffs allege they suffered physical, mental and emotional damage from a fuel leak at the Navy-run facility that contaminated their water supply.

Driving the news: The lawsuit, originally filed in early 2022, included 10 plaintiffs. But in the most recent update filed Thursday, there were more than 100 new plaintiffs added, per CNN.

  • Those in the lawsuit said they were treated and hospitalized for a number of medical issues related to the leak, including seizures, neurological issues, brain injuries, burns, rashes and more.

Context: The U.S. Navy found that 350 times the safe level of diesel fuel trickled into a well used for drinking water by families living near the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The water contained high levels of gasoline and diesel range hydrocarbons.

  • A series of failures in November 2021 led to the leak. Families reported that the water smelt like fuel.
  • The Pentagon closed down the Red Hill well in March after reports of sickness and illness floated in, Axios' Jacob Knutson writes.

Worth noting: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawaii Department of Health released results of a recent survey that found 80% of respondents said they experienced health problems in the last month, while 65% said they had some level of confidence that it was related to the leak.

Go deeper: The Pentagon's multibillion-dollar "forever chemicals" problem

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