How has the NAS Oceana jet fuel spill affected watermen?

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been a week 94,000 gallons of jet fuel leaked from a Naval Air Station Oceana storage tank. 10 On Your Side went to find out how the contamination affected the men and women who work the nearby waterways.

When the weather warms up, so does Chris Ludsford’s work on the Lynnhaven River.

“I harvest oysters at least four days a week for local restaurants,” Ludsford said. “We got a lot of crabbing going on, too.”

All the work is done on a river that, eventually, flows into a section of Wolfsnare Creek. Last Thursday, the Navy announced some of the jet fuel leak contaminated that section of water.

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“I went into the weekend with concerns,” Ludsford said. “I’m like, ‘I’ll wait ’til Monday. We’ll see what happens.’”

Since then, cleanup crews have worked around the clock to contain the flow of jet fuel and then soak it out of the water.

“We went up river early on Monday and I think the first day, and they had series of containment booms,” he explained.

According to the Navy, at last check there has been a minimal impact on the wildlife in the environment. A spokesperson said six birds died, along with a muskrat, a turtle and several other marine life species. The Navy and state officials continue to test the air and water to make sure there’s no further threat of contamination.

“Bottom line: There could have been a closure, which is a loss of income for me and my fellow watermen,” Ludsford said.

He added thanks to the cleanup work.

“We are working. We haven’t been shut down, we had no interruptions,” he said.