Category Archives: Spills

Jet Fuel Spill on May 10-11, 2017, at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach

On May 10-11, 2017, an estimated 94,000 gallons of jet fuel spilled from a leaking fuel line at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.  The Navy discovered the leak on May 11 and contained the spill to the base that day, but by then the spill had spread to Wolfsnare Creek (a tributary of Lynnhaven Bay/Lynnhaven River/Chesapeake Bay).  By May 11, the Coast Guard announced that it had contained the spill at that waterway.  As of May 16, recovery of the spilled fuel from that creek was still taking place, the Virginia Department of Health was asking people to avoid any recreational activities in the creek south of Virginia Beach Boulevard, and some residents were reporting smelling fuel fumes in their homes.  On May 17, the Navy announced that it was temporarily re-locating residents of three neighborhoods affected by the fumes from the spill. On May 19, the Navy reported that the spill had been caused by a switch being in an incorrect position during a refueling operation, leading to fuel flowing into and out of a 2000-gallon container, rather than into the three intended 880,000-gallon tanks.  Reports on May 19 indicated that about 180 homes in the city had been affected by the spill.  By May 26, the Navy had declared that emergency operations were over and tasks would now turn to remediation of the spill’s effects.  On June 23, the Navy announced that it would be discipling nine sailors for failing to perform duties that led to the jet fuel spill, and one civilian may also face disciplinary action.

Following are some news media accounts of the spill and its aftermath, listed from most recent to oldest:
Navy is disciplining nine sailors for 94,000-gallon jet fuel spill in Virginia Beach, Associated Press, as published by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 6/25/17.
Residents return to their homes in Virginia Beach after Oceana jet fuel spill. But questions linger, Virginian-Pilot, 6/2/17.
Emergency over, Navy shifts to remediation following Oceana jet fuel spill, Virginian-Pilot, 5/26/17.
A switch in the wrong position caused Oceana’s largest ever jet-fuel spill, Navy says, Virginian-Pilot, 5/19/17.
Navy officials reveal what caused NAS Oceana jet fuel spill last week, Southside Daily, 5/19/17.
Navy providing investigation update into jet fuel spill, WAVY TV-Hampton Roads, 5/19/17.
How has the NAS Oceana jet fuel spill affected watermen?, WAVY TV-Hampton Roads, 5/18/17.
Navy offers temporary relocation to some residents near Oceana fuel spill, WAVY TV-Norfolk, 5/17/17.
Navy offers relocation assistance for neighbors impacted by jet fuel leak, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 5/17/17.
Navy starts voluntary relocation for residents affected by Oceana jet fuel spill, Virginian-Pilot, 5/17/17.
Navy relocating residents affected by jet fuel spill, WVEC TV-Norfolk, 5/17/17.
6 days after fuel spill, Virginia Beach is still in recovery “emergency phase”, Southside Daily, 5/16/17.
“My whole house reeks”: Jet fuel vapors invade Virginia Beach neighborhoods, Virginian-Pilot, 5/15/17.
Navy continues cleanup of jet fuel spill at Oceana; London Bridge Road reopened, Virginian-Pilot, 5/15/17.
Wildlife rehab specialist called in after 5 birds found dead following Oceana jet fuel spill, Virginian-Pilot, 5/12/17.
Government agencies hear public concerns about NAS Oceana fuel spill, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 5/15/17.
Navy to hold public information session Monday to discuss fuel spill in Virginia Beach, Virginian-Pilot, 5/14/17.
Watch: Crews working to clean up jet fuel spill at NAS Oceana, WTKR TV-Norfolk, 5/11/17.
Thousands of gallons of Navy jet fuel spilled at Oceana, traffic diverted near base, Virginian-Pilot, 5/11/17.

2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill Ecological Damages Valued at $17.2 Billion, According to Research Published on April 20, 2017

In the April 20, 2017, issue of Science, a team of researchers (including Kevin Boyle of Virginia Tech’s Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics) estimated that the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which began April 20, 2010, resulted in the equivalent of $17.2 billion of damage to natural resources.

The estimate was based on a household survey asking what people would be willing to pay to prevent or reduce a future recurrence of the kinds of damages (to organisms and habitats) seen from the 2010 incident.

The article is “Putting a value on injuries to natural assets: The BP oil spill,” in the April 20, 2017, issue of Science (Vol. 356, Issue 6335, pages 253-254), available online at  (The direct link to article is, but a subscription is required for access.)  A summary of the research is available in BP oil spill did $17.2 billion in damage to natural resources, scientists find in first-ever financial evaluation of spill’s impact, Virginia Tech News, 4/20/17.

Virginia Environmental Endowment Marks 40th Anniversary on February 1, 2017; Founding Originated from Kepone Contamination of James River

On February 1, 2017, the Virginia Environmental Endowment observes its 40th anniversary, and the event was recognized in a proclamation from Gov. Terry McAuliffe.  Following is some key information about the VEE, excerpted from the governor’s proclamation; the full proclamation is available online at
“[The Virginia Environmental Endowment was created on February 1, 1977, as a nonprofit grant-making organization for the purpose of improving the quality of Virginia’s environment.

“[The] initial funding for the Endowment arose out of an environmental enforcement action surrounding the polluting of the James River with the pesticide Kepone, and additional funds from other environmental settlements expanded the Endowment’s grant-making capacity to include the Kanawha and Ohio River Valleys of Kentucky and West Virginia.

“[The] mission of the Endowment is to improve the quality of the environment by using its capital, expertise, and resources to prevent pollution, conserve natural resources, and promote environmental literacy.

“[The] Endowment has awarded over 1,200 grants to nearly 500 partner organizations totaling over $27 million since 1977 [and…] the Endowment leveraged its funding to achieve over $70 million in environmental improvement.”

More information about the VEE is available online at; or contact the organization at P.O. Box 790, Richmond, VA 23218-0790; (804) 644-5000; e-mail:

Mineral Oil Discharges from Virginia Electric and Power Company in January 2016 – Consent Order Proposed by Va. DEQ on 10/31/16

On October 31, 2016, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced a proposed consent order with Virginia Electric and Power Company (a subsidiary of Dominion) for two January 2016 incidents where mineral oil from electrical transformers in waterways: approximately 9,000 gallons of oil from a transformer at the West Staunton substation into an unnamed tributary of Bell Creek and subsequently a farm pond Augusta County; and approximately 13,500 gallons into Roaches Run and subsequently the Potomac River at the Crystal City substation in Arlington County.

The proposed consent order’s enforcement actions includes a civil charge of $259,535 and requires completion of a corrective action plan for restoration and monitoring of any long-term impacts.

The proposed order will undergo a public-comment period from October 31, 2016, through November 30, 2016 and then be considered by the State Water Control Board.  The proposed order is available online at  The DEQ will accept comments by e-mail to, or by postal mail to P.O. Box 1105, Richmond, VA 23219.

Source: Virginia proposes enforcement action over mineral oil spills by Dominion in 2016, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality News Release, 10/31/16.

For a previous Water Central News Grouper post on the Arlington incident, please see Oil Sheen on Potomac River at Arlington County, Va., and Washington, D.C.

Oil Sheen on Potomac River at Arlington County, Va., and Washington, D.C., in February 2016; Originated with January 24, 2016, Oil Leak at Dominion Substation, According to Coast Guard on February 12; Dominion Conducting Dye Tests in June 2016 to Help Determing How Incident Occurred

On February 12, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that the source of an oily sheen discovered on February on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Wildlife Sanctuary in Arlington County, Va., originated in a January 24, 2016, spill of 13,500 gallons of mineral oil used to cool transformers at Dominion Virginia Power’s Crystal City substation.  Also on February 12, Dominion officials stated that they concurred with the findings and would take full responsibility for the impacts of the oil reaching the Potomac.  About eight miles of the Potomac were affected by the oil, killing 21 birds and requiring treatment for over 30 others.  On February 8, the Coast Guard, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, and the Washington, D.C., Department of Energy and the Environment had investigated the spill by means of a dye test in stormwater drains near the wildlife sanctuary.

In June 2016, Dominion conducted more dye tests in attempting to determine how the leak occurred.

Sources and other media articles about the incident:

Dominion to dye-test runoff into wildlife refuge near airport, Washington Post, 6/15/16.

Opinion: Mount Vernon Column: About the Potomac Oil Spill, Mount Vernon Connection, 2/18/16 [commentary by Virginia House of Delegates Member Paul Krizek of Alexandria].

13,500 Gallons of Mineral Oil Flow into Potomac, Virginia Connection Newspapers, 2/17/16.

Potomac oil spill came from Dominion, utility admits, Washington Post, 2/12/16.

Coast Guard links Potomac sheen to Dominion oil spill, Bay Journal, 2/12/16.

Dominion spill to blame for oily sheen, wildlife deaths on Potomac, Inside NoVa, 2/12/16.

Dominion Power accepts responsibility for Potomac River oil sheen, WTOP Radio-Washington, 2/12/16.

Unified Command Still Investigating Potomac River Oil Sheen,, 2/11/16.

Local Agencies Investigate Oil Sheen on Potomac River, Alexandria Times, 2/11/16.

First Oil Sample Results in from Gravelly Point Spill: U.S. Coast Guard, Arlington Patch, 2/8/16.

Coast Guard identifies oil in refuge and river as fuel oil; source still unknown, Washington Post, 2/8/16.

Coast Guard: Fuel oil in Potomac evaporating on its own, WTOP Radio-Washington, 2/8/16.

Delaware’s Tri-State Bird Rescue decontaminates geese after Potomac oil spill, WDEL Radio-Wilmington, Del., 2/8/16.

Some birds lost feathers; oil clean-up continues on the Potomac, WUSA TV-Washington, 2/8/16.

Coast Guard to dye storm water system in search of oil spill source, Washington Post, 2/8/16.

Dye Test Planned on Potomac River Oil Sheen,, 2/8/16.

Oil sheen on Potomac near DC under investigation, Bay Journal, 2/5/16; updated 2/7/16.

Source of Potomac oil spill still a mystery as sheen begins to dissipate, Washington Post, 2/6/16.

Oil sheen found in the Potomac River appears to have dissipated, Washington Post, 2/5/16.

|Oily Substance Coats Bird Sanctuary, 8 Miles of Potomac River, NBC4 TV Washington, 2/5/16.

Coast Guard, Partner Agencies Respond To Potomac River Sheen; Treat Affected Waterfowl,, 2/7/16.

Mysterious oily sheen on Potomac River in Arlington impacting birds, fish, Inside NoVa, 2/5/16.

Official: Oil sheen on Potomac River has decreased dramatically, WTOP-Radio Washington, 2/5/16.

At least 23 birds, other wildlife treated after exposure to Potomac River oil slick, WJLA Washington

‘Petroleum-Based Substance’ Found in Potomac River, Old Town Alexandria Patch, 2/5/16.

Coast Guard working to clean oil sheen from Potomac River, WTOP Washington, 2/5/16.

Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon Restoration Projects Database and Map

As of October 2015, over five years had passed since the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon Gulf of Mexico oil rig explosion, fire, and sinking that led to a three-month release of millions of barrels of oil that contaminated some 1000 miles of coastlines of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida.  Billions of dollars have been committed to current and future efforts to try to restore the Gulf Coast areas and organisms that were affected by the spill. The Environmental Law Institute (ELI) provides an online database and map of Gulf restoration projects related to the 2010 spill. The map and database are available online at; an overview of Gulf recovery processes and funding sources is available at For more information, contact ELI at 1730 M Street NW, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 939-3800; or

The Dan River Coal Ash Spill of February 2014: Science during a Rapid Response — Public Lecture and Hands-on Learning Session in Blacksburg on Oct. 15, 2015

On Thursday, October 15, 2015, 7 p.m–8:30 p.m., Dr. Madeline Schreiber of the Virginia Tech Department of Geosciences will present a public lecture and learning session, “The Dan River Coal Ash Spill of February 2014: Science during a Rapid Response.”

Following the February 2014 coal ash spill into the Dan River from a slurry pond in Eden, N.C., Dr. Schreiber and colleagues at Virginia Tech and Cornell University (Ithaca, N.Y.) obtained a National Science Foundation (NSF) “Rapid Response” grant to study the impact of this spill on the water quality and sediments of the river system.  (More information on the NSF Rapid Response Research Program is available online at  The public lecture will cover the timeline of the coal ash spill, efforts to remove ash from the river, physical and chemical characterization of the ash, and water quality impacts in the Dan River.

The event will be held in Derring Hall on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg.  The public lecture will be held in 4069 Derring.  That will be followed by a hands-on, meet-the-scientists session in the Museum of Geosciences, 2062 Derring.  In the Museum portion, attendees will be able to talk with the scientists, see coal and coal ash under different magnification, and visit the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) Lab to see images of coal ash.  Groups will be accompanied to the SEM lab.

The event is free and is appropriate for science-interested adults, students, and especially K-12 teachers and other educators who would like to gain a better understanding of environmental impacts of the coal-ash spill.  Free parking is available in the West Campus Drive lots and Perry St. garage (north of the construction site).  Handicap parking spaces are located adjacent to Derring on the back (south) side of the building.