Gov. David Ige said the state government’s relationship with the Navy has improved in the months following a fuel spill in Red Hill that poisoned military families and threatened the water supply for much of urban Oahu.

But Ige said the Navy has a lot of work to do to mend ties with the general public following the publication of videos depicting the fuel leak, which the Navy previously told the state did not exist.

“People are very very skeptical,” Ige said during the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s “Spotlight Hawaii” program on Wednesday.

Governor David Ige holds a press conference announcing bills he intends to veto.
Gov. David Ige said Wednesday that state officials asked for video of a fuel spill at Red Hill, only to be told none existed. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2022

Ige’s comments came in response to a question about cellphone videos that depict fuel raining from a pipe into a tunnel in the Red Hill storage facility. The governor said state officials asked for video of the November leak. But the Navy told the state that none was available.

“They assured us — they told us — that no video was available, that the cameras were not operating at that point in time. I was very surprised,” Ige said of the videos published by Civil Beat.

Ige said relations have improved “but then again, we get this report and there’s more information. There’s a video that we were assured did not exist. And yet it appears. There definitely is a lot more work that will be required of the Navy to restore trust between the federal government and the state government. And the Navy and the general public.”

An investigation by the U.S. Pacific Fleet found that Navy officials failed to properly respond to the fuel leaks. The fuel facility built in 1941 is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2024.

We appreciate gifts of any amount

When you give, your donation is combined with gifts from thousands of your fellow readers, and together you help power the strongest team of investigative journalists in the state.

Every little bit helps. Will you join us?

About the Author