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700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled at Maui Space Surveillance Complex at Haleakalā

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The Maui Space Surveillance System is located near the summit of Haleakala and includes the Air Force Maui Optical Station and deep space surveillance assets. File photo by Wendy Osher.

An estimated 700 gallons of diesel fuel spilled at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex located at the summit of Haleakalā, the US Pacific Air Forces reported.

Authorities pointed toward a mechanical issue in which a diesel fuel pump for an onsite backup generator failed to shut off during the night on Sunday, Jan. 29. The following morning at 8 a.m., site maintenance personnel identified that the pump failed to shut off and immediately deactivated the transfer pump.

The Air Force reports there were no injuries, and the cause of the failure is under review. Notification of the spill was also made to the Department of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.


“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 US Space Forces Indo-Pacific commander Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir in a news release.

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

Senator Lynn DeCoite (District 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, and Molokini) issued a statement Wednesday morning saying:


“This 700-gallon fuel spill atop Haleakalā is completely unacceptable and very concerning for those who live and work near the summit. Haleakalā plays a crucial role in the ecosystem of Maui Island, and any contamination of our water sources and natural resources could have devastating effects. 

“I will be monitoring this situation very closely and will be reaching out to the Department of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Space Forces Indo-Pacific to ensure transparency throughout their entire investigation and to hold them accountable in keeping the community up-to-date on any major findings.” 

House Representative Kyle Yamashita (D-12, Upcountry) issued the following statement regarding the fuel spill at the summit of Haleakalā:


“The fuel spill at Haleakalā is deeply troubling. I will work closely with state and federal regulators to monitor this situation and hold the responsible parties accountable.”

Representative Mahina Poepoe (D-13, Moloka‘i, Lāna‘i, Kaho‘olawe, portion of Kahului, Ha‘ikū, Pe‘ahi, Huelo, Nāhiku, Hāna, Kīpahulu) also issued a statement:

“I’m greatly alarmed a significant fuel spill occurred yesterday on our sacred ‘āina entrusted to the United States Military. Poor stewardship is not acceptable, and there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for continuing to create environmental emergencies,” said Representative Mahina Poepoe. “More information is needed about the extent and cause of the spill. However, this type of incident cannot keep occurring. We need to hold the military accountable for protecting our land from future degradation.”

*This post was updated to include comments from lawmakers related to the incident.


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