VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — The Navy provided an update Friday morning on the cleanup efforts and findings into the investigation after 94,000 gallons of fuel spilled a week ago at NAS Oceana.
The Navy announced that a preliminary investigation found that on Wednesday, May 10, a fuel switch was in the incorrect position during the transfer of fuel into one of Oceana’s three 880,000 gallon storage tanks. The fuel was routed into a smaller 2,000 gallon tank and overflowed for several hours. The overflow was discovered Thursday morning around 6 a.m.
“Exactly how the switch was in the wrong position is under investigation,” Rear Adm. Jack Scorby, commander of Navy Region Mid-Atlantic said.
Of the 94,000 gallons that spilled, 25,000 gallons went off the base and into the community. The Navy originally expected the May 11 spill to be cleaned up within 48 hours, but as of Friday morning, crews have contained the flow and are now working to soak it out of the water. Rear Adm. Scorby expects cleanup to continue into next week.
“A lot of this will require Mother Nature as the tides ebb and flow (come in and out) that is gonna push the product further down,” Rear Adm. Scorby said. “Then we will be able to collect it at that point.”
The spill also leaked into nearby waterways. According to the Navy, at last check 701 wildlife have died as a result. A majority of that have been small marine life. A spokesperson said that would be tadpoles, minnows, and other fish. A spokesperson said six birds died, along with a muskrat, a turtle and several other small marine life species. Officials say they’ll continue to test the air quality and water to make sure there’s no further threat of contamination.
10 On Your Side asked, “What is being done to make sure this doesn’t happen again?”
Rear Adm. Scorby: “We doubled up the amount of people down there there were 20 there’s now 40. They are doing hourly rotations to ensure that we are monitoring the site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”