Hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel spilled at Space Force facility atop Haleakala

The public was notified of the spill around 8 p.m. Tuesday.
Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 9:10 PM HST|Updated: Feb. 1, 2023 at 3:48 PM HST
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HALEAKALA (HawaiiNewsNow) - About 700 gallons of diesel fuel was spilled at the Maui Space Force Surveillance Complex on the summit of Haleakala, military officials said.

The public was notified of the spill around 8 p.m. Tuesday.

The Space Force facility is described as a “strategically-located national asset” that collects data on near-Earth and deep-space objects.

Officials said the cause of the spill was due to a mechanical issue — a diesel fuel pump for an on-site backup generator failed to shut off Sunday night.

The next morning at about 8 a.m., site maintenance personnel noticed the problem and immediately deactivated the transfer pump, but not before 700 gallons of fuel leaked out.

Fuel spill experts from the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center will assess the site to begin remediation efforts.

“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,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, commander of U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the generator failure is under investigation.

The military said it notified the state and EPA about the spill.

In a statement the EPA said it is in communication with the state Department of Health, who has used its State Emergency Response Program authority to lead efforts to work with Space Force on immediate cleanup.

EPA staff will be joining DOH on-site early next Tuesday to observe the state’s assessment and inspect the site to see if federal regulations under the Clean Water Act potentially apply.

Following the spill, Maui County state Sen. Lynn DeCoite called the incident “completely unacceptable and very concerning” for those who live and work near the summit.

“Haleakala plays a crucial role in the ecosystem of Maui Island, and any contamination of our water sources and natural resources could have devastating effects,” she said in a statement.

DeCoite added that she will be holding the Department of Health, EPA and U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific accountable in making sure the community is kept up to date.

State Rep. Kyle Yamashita also issued a statement saying, “The fuel spill at Haleakala is deeply troubling. I will work closely with state and federal regulators to monitor this situation and hold the responsible parties accountable.”

Additionally, state Rep. Mahina Poepoe said, “I’m greatly alarmed a significant fuel spill occurred yesterday on our sacred aina entrusted to the United States Military. Poor stewardship is not acceptable, and there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for continuing to create environmental emergencies.”