Military families are suing the US government over the water at Hawaii base

Precise News

Richelle Dietz, a mother of two and wife of a U.S. Navy officer stationed in Honolulu, is among 17 people suing the U.S. government.
Richelle Dietz, a mother of two and wife of a U.S. Navy officer, often thinks about water.
She’s one of 17 relatives of U.S. military members suing the United States over the leak from the World War II-era storage tanks.
She said her entire family — including dog Rocket — continues to suffer from health problems they link to the tainted water.
The 17 are considered “bellwether” plaintiffs representing more than 7,500 other military family members, civilians and service members in three federal lawsuits.
When the Dietz family arrived in Hawaii in February 2021, “we thought we were moving to heaven on earth,” Dietz wrote in a declaration filed in the case.
Eventually, under orders from state officials, pressure from the outcry and ongoing protests, the military drained the tanks.
As she prepares to move out of a house where the ice maker has remained off since 2021, Dietz hopes the trial will renew awareness about what happened to the water.


Two-mother Richelle Dietz is married to a U.S. s. One of the seventeen plaintiffs suing the United States is a Navy officer stationed in Honolulu. S. the administration.

The lawsuit is based on health issues that were purportedly caused by a jet fuel leak in 2021, including rashes and vomiting.

The government has acknowledged its responsibility, but it contests the degree of exposure and the ensuing health problems.

Two-time mother Richelle Dietz is married to a U.S. S. Naval officer who thinks about water a lot.

Monthly expenses for the Honolulu-based family exceed $120, as they purchase showerhead and sink filters along with jugs of bottled water for cleaning, cooking, and drinking. The children—who are five and thirteen years old—carry cups of bottled water upstairs to their bathrooms every night so they can brush their teeth.

Dietz remarked, “I hope that one day I can stop thinking about water all the time.”. But it’s a constant at the moment. “.”.


That vigilance is to avoid more vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and other ailments, which they said they started experiencing 2021, when jet fuel leaked into the Navy water system serving 93,000 people on and around the Pearl Harbor base. Many in military housing, including Dietz’s own family, claim it made them sick.

Her family comprises 17 members. S. military personnel are suing the US over the World War II-era storage tanks leak. She claimed that the health issues her entire family—including their dog Rocket—continue to experience are related to the contaminated water. Because he fears reprisals from the Navy, her husband, a chief petty officer, declined to speak with The Associated Press.

In three federal lawsuits, the 17 are regarded as “bellwether” plaintiffs, standing in for over 7,500 additional military family members, civilians, and service members. The verdict in their trial, which begins on Monday, will have an impact on the other cases’ chances of success and the potential damages.

One of their lawyers, Kristina Baehr, stated that she already views it as a success because the U. S. Liability has been acknowledged by government.


You. s. Attorneys from the Department of Justice stated in court filings that the government acknowledges the Nov. The plaintiffs claim that the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility spill on April 20, 2021, “caused a nuisance” for them, that the United States “breached its duty of care,” and that they were harmed financially.

However, they contest that the plaintiffs’ claimed health issues were brought on by exposure to jet fuel at levels high enough. Plaintiffs claim that eczema, asthma, anxiety, memory loss, and seizures are among the lingering conditions they are dealing with.

“We felt we were moving to heaven on earth,” Dietz stated in a declaration submitted in the case, when the family moved to Hawaii in February 2021.

But they were unable to identify their stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhea around Thanksgiving, which was shortly after the leak. There were other sick families in the neighborhood. Next, rashes appeared on them.

“It’s burning in my throat. Dietz recalled telling her husband on November, “I feel like I just drank gasoline.”. 26.

Neighbors complaining about fuel odor in their water flooded her Facebook timeline the following evening. Additionally, the Dietzes smelled fuel and ran to their faucets. They saw the same greasy sheen in the tap water.

The families’ attorneys claim the trial will demonstrate that Navy officers, even after discovering fuel in the water, did not notify the residents and even continued to believe that staff members were consuming the water.

An email requesting comments on the lawsuit was not answered by government attorneys or navy representatives.

Hawaii’s fuel storage tanks have long been a source of contention; over the past ten years, Native Hawaiians and other locals have expressed concern about leaks that could endanger the state’s overall water supply. The 400,000 residents of Honolulu’s urban area receive water from an aquifer that the tanks are situated above.

The Navy initially claimed it had not discovered how petroleum entered the water, but after conducting its own investigation, it was determined that a series of errors had led to the incident.

On May 6, 2021, while fuel was being transferred between tanks, a pipe burst as a result of an operator error, spilling 21,000 gallons (80,000 liters). The majority of the fuel, on the other hand, went into a fire suppression line and stayed there for six months, until a cart crashed into the line, releasing 20,000 gallons (75,700 liters), which found their way into the water system.

Workers at Red Hill observed that one of the tanks was deficient in that quantity, but they failed to notify higher-ups about the inconsistency.

Dietz didn’t want to ask to leave Hawaii in order to jeopardize her husband’s career. Thus, they remained and resolved not to drink tap water while they decided what to do.

“This house will simply be occupied by another family,” she declared. Therefore, we must remain here and make an effort to resolve this. ****.

Dietz claims that in doing so, she made unanticipated allies among Native Hawaiians, who already harbor mistrust toward the U.S. and regard water as a sacred resource. s. military history dates at least to 1893, when a group of American businessmen received backing from U.S. S. The Hawaiian kingdom was overthrown by Marines.

One of the activists who worked to have the tanks shut down, Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua, is a doctoral student studying political science from Native Hawaiian. She said that the water crisis brought affected military families together. According to him, it also helped to build relationships among the military members who frequently come and go from the islands.

According to Kapahua, “the people who did show up for them was the Native community” when families felt abandoned by the military.

Dietz was in agreement. She sobbed as she said, “They gave us a seat at the table.”.

The military eventually emptied the tanks as a result of directives from state authorities, pressure from the public, and continuous protests.

The family is moving to Jacksonville, Florida, this summer after Dietz’s husband received new orders. They do not intend to occupy military housing in that location.

Dietz is hoping that the trial will raise awareness about what happened to the water as she gets ready to move out of a house where the ice maker hasn’t been on since 2021.

“There will be a new resident, and I’m concerned they might turn on the ice maker,” she remarked. “.”.

scroll to top