Water testing

Petroleum Leaks into Drinking Water at Pearl Harbor Military Base

Petroleum leaked into drinking water on the military base, resulting 6,000 people needing medical attention.   October 28, 2022

By Dave Lubach, managing editor

Three pipelines that leaked petroleum into a drinking water well on the Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii are being drained entirely as the storage facility prepares for closure. 

The Associated Press reported that the draining process started on October 24 and will eventually drain 1 million gallons of fuel from the pipelines. The lines have been out of use since last year, when the petroleum appeared in the wells that service 93,000 people in and around the base. 

Nearly 6,000 people, mostly from the military and their families, needed medical attention after drinking and bathing in the contaminated water. 

Related Content: Water Distribution System Called Into Question at Pearl Harbor

Hawaii’s Department of Health ordered the military to drain the fuel as part of the process to shut down the Red Hill storage facility, which dated back to World War II. The military set a goal of removing the fuel by July 2024. 

Adding to the danger of the project, the contaminated facility sits only 100 feet above a Honolulu drinking water aquifer, which supplies 20 percent of the city’s drinking water. 

The Navy found that operator error led to a ruptured pipe in May 2021 when fuel was transferred, causing 21,000 gallons of fuel to spill into a fire suppression line, where it sat for six months. Another incident released 20,000 more gallons, but while cleaning up the military missed 5,000 gallons, which flowed into a drain and eventually into the drinking water well. 

Dave Lubach is the managing editor of the Facility Market. 


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