More than 100 new plaintiffs affected by water contamination at the Red Hill bulk fuel storage facility in Hawaii have been included in a lawsuit against the US government.
The lawsuit was originally filed earlier this year in the US District Court for the District of Hawaii and included the names of 10 plaintiffs.
The most recent update to the document, filed Thursday, includes the names of more than 100 new plaintiffs, including civilians, who say they have suffered physically, emotionally and financially after a series of failures last November resulted in a fuel leak in the installation.
“Once healthy adults and children have been treated and hospitalized for seizures, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological problems, vestibular dysfunction, brain injury, hearing problems, kidney complications, skin tumors, lung damage, liver damage, kidney damage, burns, rashes, injuries, thyroid abnormalities, migraines, infant loss, and other illnesses,” the complaint said.
A US Navy investigation found that around 20,000 gallons of fuel leaked into a nearby well that families depended on for water.
The Navy closed its Red Hill long after reports came in of people living on the base suffering from nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches and skin-related problems. Testing revealed petroleum hydrocarbons and vapors in the water, the Navy said at the time.
through a command investigation, the Navy found inadequate responses to the May 2021 spill and the November spill. It also found that the risk could have been identified with proper training and drills after the original leak.
In March, the Department of Defense announced that it would offload fuel and permanently shut down the facility by August 2027. The leak, YoThe resulting environmental damage and harm to surrounding communities are part of what prompted the department to make the decision.
In response to a query about the updated lawsuit, the Defense Health Agency said in a statement that it “is committed to the health and safety of our patients.”
There are currently plans to open a dedicated clinic for patients with symptoms related to fuel exposure in December, Whitney Trimble, chief of public affairs for the Defense Health Agency’s Indo-Pacific Region, told CNN in the statement Friday. .
“Because very limited studies are available on the long-term health effects of exposure to petroleum products, DHAR-IP is working closely with experts from the Department of Defense, the Hawaii Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to closely monitor the long-term health effects of exposure to fuel-contaminated water, so we can better serve patients affected by the Red Hill contamination,” Trimble said.
The updated complaint comes on the heels of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Hawaii Department of Health releasing the results of a survey on water pollution in the US Navy Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam drinking water system.
The survey, which included 986 participants, was conducted in September and found that approximately 80% of respondents reported health symptoms in the previous 30 days, and 65% expressed high or very high confidence that the symptoms were related with the water contamination incident.
According to the survey, the most common symptoms were headaches, anxiety, dry or itchy skin, fatigue and difficulty sleeping.
Respondents also “overwhelmingly expressed concern and frustration with communication, transparency, and trust.”