ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) --
Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall met with elected officials and a representative of local advocacy groups at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex during a visit to Haleakalā, Hawaii, Feb. 22.
Kendall’s visit reaffirmed the department’s commitment to comprehensively address the damage caused after approximately 700 gallons of fuel were released from an on-site backup generator Jan. 29, contaminating Haleakalā's environmentally sensitive and culturally important summit.
“Our ongoing response to this fuel spill is a top priority,” Kendall explained. "We acknowledge this incident hurt the environment, it harmed our reputation, and calls into question the trust placed in us by our local communities.”
“Restoring the land and the public’s trust will take deliberate, consistent action,” Kendall said. “We’ve built a strong team that is drafting a restoration plan in coordination with federal and state agencies and addressing the failure that took us to this point.”
“Industry standard remediation processes and protocols are not sufficient for this sacred ground,” said Brig. Gen. Anthony Mastalir, U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific commander. “We must go above and beyond what would otherwise be deemed acceptable, and that is what we are doing.”
An equipment malfunction caused by a lightning strike at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex caused the release. Fuel spill experts from the Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center are managing remediation efforts in partnership with local advisors.
“While we have fallen short of our own expectations as stewards of this sacred place, I am fully optimistic we will be successful in restoring the land — keeping our partners informed while restoring the trust with our community partners,” Kendall said.