The DOJ noted that the agreement was a settlement and “there has been no determination of liability.”
Maytag Aircraft Corporation has been in business for more than 70 years and has contracted with the federal government hundreds of times, according to the corporation’s website.
The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Energy was contracting with Maytag when the jet fuel spill occurred on January 30, 2014, at Fort Hood’s Robert Gray Army Airfield Bulk Storage and Hydrant Facility, according to a DOJ press statement.
The federal government claimed that Maytag workers neglected to close a fuel separator valve that resulted in an underground waste fuel tank overflowing and polluting a nearby river as fuel “spew[ed] out of the ground.” Maytag was contractually obligated to secure the fuel valves, per the DOJ.
In addition, the DOJ said that the corporation made false statements to investigators when they were inquiring into the cause of the fuel spill, including an allegation that Maytag employees told investigators the fuel valves were closed and had locks on them before the spill.
Environmental remediation work lasted from the time of the spill through 2020, the DOJ stated, and the federal government had sought to make Maytag foot the bill for the cost of damaged property, the cleanup itself, and the lost fuel, among other things.
United States Attorney for the Western District of Texas Ashley Hoff commented on the agreement in the DOJ’s press release.
“The United States expects contractors that operate on military bases to be good stewards of federal lands and federal property,” Hoff said. “We will hold these contractors responsible for actions that cause environmental harm and negatively affect the health and safety of uniformed service members, civilian employees, and the community.”
Patrick Mackin, spokesman for the DLA, characterized the resolution as a win for taxpayers.
“The Defense Logistics Agency values our relationships with industry partners,” Mackin said. “We are pleased that we could resolve this long-standing claim and relieve the American taxpayer of the financial burden caused by the fuel spill and clean-up.”
The settlement also takes care of the U.S. attorney’s accusation that Maytag workers made false statements in violation of a federal law dating back to the Civil War called the False Claims Act. In part, the act makes it unlawful for a contractor to give false information to avoid a financial obligation to the federal government.
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Hayden Sparks is a senior reporter for The Texan and a lifelong resident of the Lone Star State. He has coached competitive speech and debate and has been involved in politics since a young age. One of Hayden's favorite quotes is by Sam Houston: "Texas has yet to learn submission to any oppression, come from what source it may."