Maui News

Mayor visits site of diesel fuel spill at Haleakalā, Air Force plans update on remediation plan

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Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr. and his executive team discuss the current status of the diesel fuel spill at the Maui Surveillance Complex atop the Haleakalā summit. (From left: Leo Caires, Chief of Staff; Colonel Michal D. Holliday, Space Force; Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr.; Kekuhaupio “Keku” Akana, Managing Director; Mahina Martin, Chief of Communications and Public Affairs) PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia/County of Maui
  • A view of the Maui Space Surveillance Complex from the Haleakalā visitor center on Thursday, Feb. 2. PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia/County of Maui
  • Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr. receives an overview and initial assessment about the incident that occurred on Sunday, Jan. 29 from Colonel Michal D. Holliday of the Space Force.  PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia/County of Maui
  • Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr. and his executive team arrive at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex on Thursday, Feb. 2.  PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia/County of Maui
  • Leo Caires, Mayor Bissen’s Chief of Staff, talks with Richard Chong, Deputy Chief of the 15th Space Surveillance Squadron, and Mayor Richard Bissen, Jr.  during the site visit. PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia/County of Maui
  • Mahina Martin and Kekuhaupio “Keku” Akana discuss the diesel fuel spill with Colonel Holliday. PC: Gaylord Paul Garcia/County of Maui

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.

“I have made it clear to General Mastalir and his team that the sacredness of Haleakalā cannot be minimized and that the reverence of this wahi pana requires respectful, thorough and complete attention. I’ve also communicated that it’s important that the Space Force engages with organizations with longstanding kuleana to Haleakalā such as Friends of Haleakalā, Kilakila ʻO Haleakalā and Kākoʻo Haleakalā.”


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.

Maui Space Surveillance Complex. PC: Pacific Air Forces

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. 

Maui Space Surveillance Complex. PC: Pacific Air Forces
Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served more than 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.
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