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700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled at Space Force facility

A U.S. Space Force Guardian in uniform. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jessica Sanchez)

About 700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled from the Maui Space Surveillance Complex at the summit of Haleakala on Sunday, the U.S. Space Force announced in a news release late Tuesday night.

“Due to a mechanical issue, a diesel fuel pump for an on-site backup generator failed to shutoff,” the news release said.

At this time, which side of the mountain the fuel spilled down remains unknown, an Air Force spokesperson said.

The spill began Sunday night and continued until maintenance personnel discovered the pump was still on and shut it off around 8 a.m. Monday, the release said.

No injuries were reported.

Fuel spill experts from the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center will assess the area for remediation, the release said.

Space Force notified the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health of the spill.

“We understand the importance of being good stewards of the environment and will work with necessary state and federal officials as we begin clean-up efforts,” Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, commander of U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific, said in the release.

In a statement, Sen. Lynn DeCoite, who represents parts of Maui, expressed her concern and intent to seek transparency and accountability from the military, EPA and DOH.

“This 700-gallon fuel spill atop Haleakalā is completely unacceptable and very concerning for those who live and work near the summit. Haleakalā plays a crucial role in the ecosystem of Maui Island, and any contamination of our water sources and natural resources could have devastating effects,” DeCoite said in the statement.

The fuel spill comes more than a year after the Navy’s fuel facility at Red Hill on Oahu leaked and poisoned the water supply for 100,000 people, sickening thousands.

“Even under times of intense scrutiny such as now, they simply cannot prevent these kinds of incidents from happening,” said Wayne Tanaka, director of the Sierra Club of Hawaii. “And even with their vast resources, they have not been able to clean up the messes they have created,” he said.

The spill on Haleakala is just the latest in the military’s history of degrading Hawaii’s environment, Tanaka said.

“We, our children, and our future generations must deal with the military’s repeated contamination of lands and waters across the islands — from UXO in our valleys, to PCBs in our fish, to ‘forever chemicals’ in our soil and water,” Tanaka said. “To now diesel in sacred lands and sensitive ecosystems found nowhere else in the world,” he said.


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