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2,000+ more plaintiffs sue Navy over contaminated drinking water

Pearl Harbor employees work on a hazard material spill recovery operation at the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility (RHBFSF) in Halawa, Hawaii, Dec. 1, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Matthew Mackintosh)
February 07, 2024

Another 2,200 plaintiffs filed suit over contamination that occurred in 2021 after a fuel leak in the Red Hill Bulk Storage Facility contaminated the Red Hill drinking water well. Families that were living on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Red Hill Housing, and the Army’s Aliamanu Military Reservation were impacted. The leak is suspected to have occurred after a pressure surge caused the release of over 19,000 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel onto the tunnel floor located between the underground storage tanks.

The new lawsuit was filed by Just Well Law and Hosoda Law Group, the law firms managing previous lawsuits filed against the Navy. One prior lawsuit, which involves over 7,000 plaintiffs, closed to new applicants in November 2023. 

According to Stars and Stripes, several families are lead complainants in the new filings. Jaclyn Hughes, the spouse of an active-duty member who was stationed on Halsey Terrace, alleges multiple damages to herself and her children.

“Around Thanksgiving, their water had a sheen and smelled of gasoline. Jaclyn’s throat was sore and burned. Her newborn son’s body was covered in red rashes,” the lawsuit notes.

READ MORE: Military begins removal of ‘residual’ fuel at Red Hill

Hughes stated that her daughter began experiencing profound behavioral changes and “fits of rage” during which “she screamed uncontrollably and became combative.”

“For months she refused to wear clothes due to sensory overwhelm, or safely take car rides, holding the family captive in the home that was poisoning her,” she continued.

Monique Delgado, another primary complainant, stated that her family was required to leave their home due to the negative health effects caused by the spill.

“The Delgados had their lives turned upside down as they left behind family, their culture, and the island they hold so dear, a decision they ultimately regretted,” the suit states. “Their new life has been filled with strife. The move set into motion a sequence of events that left the family financially destitute. Scott, a combat veteran, experienced a lapse in VA mental health care, and Monique still requires constant care from a pulmonologist as they try to heal her lungs and reverse her body’s reaction to her exposure.”

The Delgados cataloged dizzy spells, untreatable, painful rashes, vision loss, weight gain, and the development of pre-diabetes as symptoms. 

The Navy has not issued an official response to any pending litigation resulting from the Red Hill leak.