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Four families are suing the U.S. government nearly a year after jet fuel leaked and contaminated drinking water that went to military households in Hawaii.
A federal lawsuit filed Wednesday claims that leaks at the Red Hill storage facility near Pearl Harbor caused “physical and emotional injuries,” and that the U.S. should be held liable under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
“Throughout 2021, as more than 93,000 military service members, their family members, and civilians relied on the government for safe water on the island of O`ahu, the Navy harbored toxic secrets,” the complaint states, adding that “[w]hile the government failed to disclose the contamination as required by federal law, these families continued to ingest and immerse themselves in the toxic water.”
The lawsuit, filed in Hawaii federal court on behalf of the families by the Hosoda Law Group of Honolulu and Just Well Law of Austin, Texas, alleges that thousands of gallons leaked into the water supply, resulting in military families getting sick while the Navy denied wrongdoing.
“Then the Navy denied the families even the most basic standard of care when they turned to military medical providers for help. Military facilities recorded symptoms but failed to run standard labs to check liver function, kidney function and complete blood count,” the complaint claims.
A press release from Just Well Law states that “hundreds more plaintiffs” filed claim forms to be added to the lawsuit.
A U.S. Navy spokesperson said the Navy does not comment on ongoing litigation, but said that “nothing is more important” than the safety and health of servicemembers.
The Navy said in December 2021 that the contamination was the result of a one-time spill of jet fuel the previous month.
“The Navy is responsible for this crisis. We are taking ownership of the solutions, and we are going to fix it,” Adm. Sam Paparo, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, told state lawmakers at the time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.