HONOLULU (KHON2) — Over 100 military and civilian families have filed Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) SF-95 claims over the water contamination at the Red Hill fuel tank facility at Pearl Harbor.
As of Monday, May 9, 120 clients represented by Just Well Law, of Austin, Texas, and Hosoda Law Group, of Honolulu, filed these claims, alleging the Navy released jet fuel and other contaminants directly into their drinking water at least twice in 2021 and has not fully disclosed the scope of the contamination.
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Attorney Kristina Baehr provided KHON2 the following statement:
Attorneys representing these families said many of them continue to suffer a wide range of illnesses and are at risk for conditions such as visual and hearing disorders, neurological effects and immune disorders.
In a letter accompanying the SF-95 filings, attorneys Kristina Baehr, James Baehr and Lyle S. Hosoda wrote to Navy Vice Admiral Darse E. Crandall:
“The lack of transparency continues. The Navy refuses to release the test results taken from our clients’ drinking water in November and December 2021 – prior to flushing. Although we know the levels of hydrocarbons were high, the Navy chooses to leave these families in the dark as to the extent of their toxic exposure. And the Navy still refuses to provide even the most basic medical screening to document the exposure and care for those who have been affected.”
The letter claims military providers have failed to diagnose attributable symptoms or run standard toxicology labs to check liver function, kidney function and Complete Blood Count. Attorneys said their clients who left Oahu have received appropriate care from civilian providers.
Read their letter to the Navy below:
Among the 120 claims, attorneys shared some of their clients’ stories that illustrate the scope of their illnesses. One of them is Jeff Fritz, who served 26 years as a decorated Officer in the U.S. Army. He did tours in Iraq and Afghanistan before retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel.
His attorneys said a few months after he and his wife moved into their military residence on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Jeff began to have serious health complications last summer, including blurred vision, headaches and abdominal issues. According to Jeff’s attorneys, his VA doctors found skin cancer under his left eye which was surgically removed.
“When the Navy announced the fuel spill, Jeff’s world was flipped upside down,” the letter said. “Not wanting to risk his wife’s health, he flew her off the island on his own dime. He told his kids not to visit. After a second skin lesion was discovered on his cheek and his doctors expressed concerns of the lingering symptoms and for the contaminated water, Jeff had to give up his retirement dream. He was forced to give up a job he loved and move away from the contamination, spending tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket to do so.”
According to the law firms, contaminants are still present in the air of tested military housing, and the families that moved back are experiencing symptoms again.
“Families continue to see a sheen in the water, experience rashes and burns, and other direct symptoms,” the letter said. “Because the pipes, water heaters, appliances and other plastics were never replaced, these homes are still contaminated – even if the water source itself were now clean.”
“Our investigation continues, but the process of obtaining proper medical care, safe housing and justice for our clients has moved forward with these SF-95 filings,” Baehr stated. “We now have test results that show that the homes are still not safe and that the contaminants made it into the air. The air has not been cleaned in these homes, and the Navy has refused to move people into other housing.”
Baehr is urging the Navy to release all test results, provide adequate screening and testing, and ensure these families have the information they need to make a decision about their medical care.