Mayor visits site of diesel fuel spill at Haleakalā, Air Force plans update on remediation plan
February 3, 2023, 3:49 AM HST
* Updated February 3, 5:39 AM
Maui Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr. visited the site of a large diesel fuel spill at the summit of Haleakalā to view the impacted site and receive an overview of the incident from Space Force personnel.
The spill of 700 gallons of diesel fuel occurred on Sunday night, Jan. 29 into Monday morning, Jan. 30 at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex located at the summit of Haleakalā. The US Pacific Air Forces released information to the public regarding the incident on Tuesday evening.
At the time, authorities pointed toward a mechanical issue in which a diesel fuel pump for an onsite backup generator failed to shut off. Site maintenance personnel identified the pump failure the following morning and immediately deactivated the transfer pump, according to the news release.
Mayor Bissen made a site visit of the area on Thursday in coordination with the Space Force, 15th Space Surveillance Squadron.
“I’ve spoken with Brigadier General Anthony Mastalir, commander, US Space Forces Indo-Pacific, who has conveyed that the Space Force understands its responsibility to our community and is committed to full accountability for remediation and repair,” said Bissen in a news release following the visit.
Mayor Bissen said the assurances he has received “indicate that they fully intend to address the impacts of the oil spill.” He said the county would be closely monitoring and expecting regular status reports.
The incident was met with concern from state lawmakers who represent Maui including Senator Lynn DeCoite (District 7 – Hāna, East and Upcountry Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, and Molokini) who called the spill “completely unacceptable,” and “very concerning” for those who work and live near the summit.
She said any contamination of water sources and natural resources in the area could have devastating effects given the crucial role Haleakalā plays in the ecosystem of Maui.
House Representative Kyle Yamashita (D-12, Upcountry) called the spill “deeply troubling,” and said he would work with state and federal regulators to monitor the 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) said she was “greatly alarmed” by the incident.
“Poor stewardship is not acceptable, and there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for continuing to create environmental emergencies,” she said in a statement on Wednesday, “… this type of incident cannot keep occurring. We need to hold the military accountable for protecting our land from future degradation.”
Sen. DeCoite said she would be reaching out to the Department of Health, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Space Forces Indo-Pacific to ensure transparency throughout their investigation and to hold them accountable in keeping the community up-to-date on any major findings.
Brig. Gen. Mastalir will meet with media on Monday to provide an update on the Maui Space Surveillance Complex diesel fuel spill remediation plan.