VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A sailor is now facing charges from a massive jet fuel spill at Naval Air Station Oceana.
The spill happened back in May. A fuel switch left in the wrong position caused 94,000 gallons to spill at the base. Officials say 25,000 gallons of the fuel poured into nearby waterways.
“Our thoughts were how could we be safe,” said Virginia Beach resident Sean Pullman.
Pullman knew something was wrong and that’s when the smell of the jet fuel bubbled out from the creek out back.
“The smell was nauseating,” said Virginia Beach resident Nilda Palalay. “It was the smell of gasoline.”
Navy officials say it was human error. A switch merely left in the wrong position.
The Navy has not released the name of the sailor, but did release a redacted charge sheet. A spokesperson for the Navy confirmed that he has been charged with not preforming his duties, falsifying documents that said he was making hourly rounds and a loss of military property.
The cleanup effort cost more than $3.8 million. Dozens of people who lived nearby had to leave their homes.
“So there were no alarms on the values to prevent spilling,” Palalay asked? “It was over spilling into a smaller container. There wasn’t a digital alarm to tell?”
As residents try to forget what happened. They hope the Navy doesn’t and learns from the mistake
“It killed fish and it killed plants around there, but the smell was lingered for weeks,” Palalay said.
A court date has not been set for the sailor. There were eight other sailors who were not charged, but all disciplined.