Maytag Aircraft Corporation paying $1.9M for 2014 jet fuel spill

Defense contractor Maytag Aircraft Corporation has agreed to pay over $1.9 million to resolve allegations that the company negligently caused a jet fuel spill at Fort Hood in 2014.

Maytag will pay $1,901,200.96, which will also address allegations of false statements given to federal investigators from Maytag employees to avoid contractual liability for cleanup costs.

The U.S. alleged that on Jan. 30, 2014, Maytag employees negligently failed to close a fuel separator valve during operation of the Robert Gray Army Airfield Bulk Storage and Hydrant Facility (RGAAF) 'fuel system. The open valve resulted in fuel overflowing the capacity of the underground waste fuel tank causing it to spew out of the ground and migrate into a nearby creek. 

Maytag's contract with the U.S. required it to ensure that the fuel valves were secured when not in use, says the US Attorney's Office. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Energy contracted with Maytag to provide services to operate and maintain the government aviation and ground fuel facilities at Fort Hood, including RGAAF.

DLA Energy, as a result of the spill, undertook emergency spill response actions in 2014 and continued environmental remediation efforts through 2020 due to the location and nature of the cleanup needed. The United States held Maytag liable for the costs of the spill response and remediation under its contract which required damage reimbursement. Those damages included the cost of containment and cleanup, property damage, and lost fuel resulting from Maytag's negligence. 

Following the spill, investigation efforts took place by both DLA Energy and the Defense Criminal Investigation Service.

The U.S. alleged that, in connection with those investigations, Maytag employees made false statements to the government to avoid contractual liability for the cost of remediation. Maytag employees falsely told investigators that the valve was closed with a lock prior to the spill. 

The U.S. also contended these statements violated the "reverse false claims" provision of the False Claims Act, which imposes civil liability on those who act improperly to evade an obligation to pay money to the government, says the US Attorney's Office.

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