MARCH 8, 2022 – The effects of the 1941 Pearl Harbor attacks are LITERALLY still being felt today – as the USS Arizona continues to leak oil into the harbor. On top of this decades-long issue, a Navy oil tank is now spilling even more fuel into the waters.
Yesterday, the Pentagon announced that they’ll finally be taking action to stop the leak – at least from the oil tank.
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The Story of the Pearl Harbor Oil Leak
When Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, nine ships were sunk, and three were completely lost, never to set sail again. One of these was the USS Arizona, and its wreckage still sits in the harbor as part of the Pearl Harbor Memorial Museum.
The wreckage isn’t the only remnant of the Arizona still in the water, though. When it was sunk, it had just been completely filled up with oil. When it wasn’t constantly leaking into the water, it held about 1.5 million gallons of oil, but the oil tank was hit in the attacks.
The USS Arizona oil leak was on fire for two days after the attack, but is the ship in Pearl Harbor still leaking oil after all this time?
The answer is yes. The USS Arizona alone has been spilling about nine quarts of fuel per day into the harbor since the attacks, but the Pearl Harbor Memorial oil leak isn’t the only source of fuel leakage in the harbor.
The Navy also has a massive fuel tank facility nearby that is capable of holding 250 million gallons of oil, and it has been spilling into the harbor for months now, only exacerbating the issue.
Navy officials aren’t yet sure how one of their tankers began leaking oil into the harbor, but it became clear that there was an issue after approximately 6,000 people in and around JB Pearl Harbor-Hickam sought treatment for headaches, nausea, peeling skin, and more.
The Pentagon’s Response
NAVY BASE WATER CRISIS: The Pentagon is shutting down a Navy fuel facility near Pearl Harbor and removing all tanks that leaked oil into the local tap water.
The leak forced thousands of families to leave their homes. pic.twitter.com/SvPQHbipSZ
— CBS Mornings (@CBSMornings) March 8, 2022
On March 7, the Pentagon announced that they’ll be taking action to stop the Navy tanker’s leak by shutting down the facility and moving to a more dispersed fueling system, replacing the giant hillside tanks of WWII.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in conjunction with Hawaii’s Department of Health, made the decision to drain the remaining fuel from the tanks and shut them down completely.
The complete defueling and refueling process to resolve this part of the Pearl Harbor oil leak should take around a year, so it will be finished in mid-to-late-2023.
But what about the Hawaii oil spill coming from the Arizona? The black tears of the Arizona, which some historians have taken to calling the memorial’s oil leak, will likely remain for years.
As the USS Arizona is an active military memorial and grave, lawmakers and private companies alike are unwilling to disturb the wreckage in order to remove the ship’s fuel tank.
So while we’ve resolved one Pearl Harbor oil leak, it looks like the other is set to remain until it runs out of oil – which may not happen for another 500 years.
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