VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Crews are continuing cleanup efforts in Virginia Beach Tuesday, more than five days after a leak spilled 94,000 gallons of jet fuel at Naval Air Station Oceana.
Navy officials say fuel was being transferred from a pipeline into a storage tank on base when it overflowed and the spill occurred. The spill was not noticed until early Thursday morning. Officials said Thursday cleanup of the spill was expected to be completed within 48 hours, but crews continued working through the weekend to soak up the jet fuel.
Each day, crews remove gallons of jet fuel from nearby waterways, but the fumes persist. Neighbors in Brookgreene Commons said they wake up to the odor leaking from the creek.
“These fumes, I’m not used to,” said painter and nearby resident Richard Madden. “It’s like being inside a gas tank.”
Since the spill, Madden and his family have lived in their house, but with precautions. He has used plastic wrap to seal off the second floor from the house. They wear masks inside and don’t spend time on the first floor.
“So we just locked ourselves in one room. We put towels and blankets around the doorways closed them all and just deal with it for a couple nights,” he said.
Tuesday, that came to an end. Madden said he and his family have to go stay with his sister.
At the start of a city council meeting Tuesday, City Manager Dave Hansen addressed the spill, saying it was a significant concern for residents. Hansen said he’s anxious to hear back from the Navy on a plan to assist residents in relocating for a couple days. A spokesperson for the Navy told 10 On Your Side’s Matt Gregory they will discuss the plan more on Wednesday.
At a public information meeting Monday night, Capt. Rich Meadows, commander of the naval air station, says crews flushed all of the contaminant out of London Bridge Creek and have started working to clear Wolfsnare Creek.
About 100 people attended Monday’s forum. Many of those who showed up expressed concerns about the progress of the cleanup and health effects related to the spill.
Contractors for the City of Virginia Beach continue to measure the air quality, which they say is within health air quality standards. Doctors on hand at the public meeting reiterated that there is no need to evacuate.
Dr. Heidi Kulberg, of the Virginia Department of Health, said at Monday’s meeting that the smell of jet fuel is not dangerous, but may cause sore throat, nausea, dizziness or headaches.
“Different people’s bodies react differently to even minute levels of irritants,” Dr. Kulberg said.
Navy officials have not provided a timeline for completion of the cleanup. In the meantime, the Navy says they are working on a website to post updates, advisories and answers to resident’s questions.
Stay with WAVY.com for continuing coverage of this developing story.