U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific News

Phase Two work begins atop Haleakalā

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  • By U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific
  • U.S. Space Forces Indo-Pacific
Phase two of the spill response efforts at the Maui Space Surveillance Complex began on June 20, 2023. Work during this phase will ensure the full extent of the fuel contamination as well as the geology of the site is characterized. The results of this site characterization then inform the development of an alternatives evaluation work plan, a sampling and analysis plan, and health and safety plans.

The phase two contract was awarded to GSI Pacific, a Native Hawaiian-owned company based in Honolulu, Hawaii. The phase two work plan was approved by the Hawaii Depart of Health on June 16, 2023. The characterization work includes taking soil samples at depths of 40, 80 and 100 feet to build an underground “topographical” map of fuel contamination depth and breadth.

“We are taking deliberate actions as we work to safely restore the sacred grounds at Haleakalā, while taking into account regulatory and cultural needs at the site,” said Lt. Col. Phillip Wagenbach, 15th Space Surveillance Squadron commander.

Phase two work is expected to last about two weeks, based on weather conditions at the summit. The data gathered will inform the next phase, which will tell us where to focus remediation efforts and actual implementation of the selected remediation plan.

An archaeological expert was included as part of the phase two effort to make sure any soil disturbance or removal is informed by the cultural sensitivity of this sacred site. Archaeological monitoring will be conducted for all ground disturbing activities to identify if any significant archaeological deposits or features are uncovered during site work. If deposits or features are identified, the monitor may suspend work to document, identify and assess the findings, and coordinate with the construction team and the State Historic Preservation Department. Space Force will continue conducting engagements with concerned members of the community throughout the phases of the spill response, in keeping with the Department of the Air Force’s commitment to transparency and openness.

Additionally, the phase one report was recently released, detailing work done during the initial spill response and findings collected during that phase. That report may be viewed here: https://www.spacebasedelta1.spaceforce.mil/Portals/15/Phase%20one%20Project%20Summary%20Report.pdf

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center is leading the spill response efforts, in conjunction with Native Hawaiian organizations and various governmental agencies including the Hawaii Department of Health and Department of Land and Natural Resources, the University of Hawaii, the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Maui-based 15th Space Surveillance Squadron’s mission is to provide space domain awareness. Space domain awareness is a vital part of space flight safety, making GPS, internet banking, satellite TV and myriad other aspects of everyday life possible. At more than 10,000 feet elevation, the space surveillance location at the summit of Haleakalā contributes to that mission with some of the best astronomical viewing conditions on Earth.