Navy leaders testify before federal grand jury investigating catastrophic Red Hill fuel spill
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Navy leaders connected to the Navy tainted water scandal have testified before the federal grand jury investigating possible criminal wrongdoing.
HNN was there as Navy Capt. Trent Kalp arrived at the courthouse and testified for hours. Kalp was the commander at Fleet Logistics Center Pearl Harbor during the May 2021 fuel leak, according to a Navy report last year.
Kalp was relieved of command and replaced just ahead of the November 2021 leak, when 20,000 gallons spilled at the facility. Some of it was cleaned up, but thousands of gallons still got into the military system.
Thousands of people were sickened after drinking, bathing and cooking in the tainted water.
Another witness at grand jury proceedings was Sherri Eng, Navy Region Hawaii’s environmental director and part of the group that came up with the plan to defuel the underground storage tanks.
Federal agents with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service have been bringing in witnesses to testify for months.
“They’ve been doing their homework,” said attorney Michael Green, who represents dozens of victims in civil lawsuits.
SPECIAL SECTION: Red Hill Water Crisis
Green said federal investigators appear to be looking into the actions of Navy officials before and after the leaks.
“What the Navy knew, what they ignored and what they tried to cover up and hide,” Green said.
Also seen at the proceedings: Kris Dighe, senior counsel of the Department of Justice’s Environmental Crimes Division, based in Washington, D.C.
In a video created by the DOJ to explain the unit, Dighe says the unit’s focus is helping victims.
The unit has prosecuted violators of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act, as well as hazardous waste laws.
Hawaii News Now did reach out to Dighe’s office, but did not hear back.
- Lawsuit: Red Hill families drank ‘antifreeze’ in fuel-contaminated water
- Commander overseeing Red Hill’s defueling says plan remains ‘on track’
- CDC to review medical records of military patients sickened by Red Hill fuel spills
- Some grappling with symptoms following Red Hill fuel exposure frustrated with new clinic
Legal experts say there are a number of violations that federal authorities could be pursuing in the Red Hill scandal.
“From the leak itself to the failure to report it to the documentation of the leaks and whether it was covered up,” said Alexander Silvert, a retired federal public defender.
Silvert said just the fact that a grand jury has been empaneled is telling.
“They must have gotten some information or some feeling that there was some criminal activity going on.”
The grand jury investigation could take years before the panel decides to indict or declines charges.
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