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Fuel continues to leak from the USS Arizona’s wreckage

On December 6, 1941, the USS Arizona took on a full load of fuel—nearly 1.5 million gallons—in preparation for its planned voyage to the mainland later in December. The next day, much of it nourished the detonation and succeeding fires that demolished the ship following its attack by Japanese bombers.

 However, notwithstanding the intense fire and consequences of time, some 500,000 gallons are still slowly oozing out of the ship’s submerged wreckage: Nearly 70 years after its termination, the USS Arizona continues to spill up to 9 quarts of oil into the harbor each day. In the mid-1990s, environmental worries led the National Park Service to commission a series of site studies to determine the long-term effects of the oil leakage.

Some scientists have cautioned of a possible “calamitous” discharge of oil from the wreck, which they think would cause widespread destruction to the Hawaiian shoreline and disrupt U.S. naval functions in the area. The NPS and other governmental agencies continue to observe the worsening of the wreck site but are hesitant to perform wide-ranging repairs or alterations due to the Arizona’s role as a “war grave.” In fact, the oil that often coats the surface of the water surrounding the sunken vessel has added an moving gravity for many who visit the memorial and is occasionally referred to as the “tears of the Arizona,” or “black tears.”

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