HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) - As of Wednesday, a major oil spill in Hampton was still being cleaned up. More than 3,000 gallons of used motor oil leaked from a storage tank into a drainage ditch in the Briarfield neighborhood Sunday.
According to Hampton Fire Department spokesman Capt. Anthony Chittum, Monday night's storm made the water rise over booms placed to control the spill.
A company called LCM Corporation is in charge of the clean-up effort. They were on the scene of the spill Tuesday placing booms to absorb the oil from the water.
"We've been down to Louisiana with the BP oil spill, so we've handled large spills, and dealing with real hazardous chemicals, so we've dealt with things that are large. This is quite a spill because it goes so far," said Larry Logan, Emergency Operations Director for LCM Corporation hired to clean-up the oil.
Logan says Monday night's rainfall was frustrating.
"Probably our biggest challenge was the weather last night. Prior to that we had a lot of the oil soaked up, we've had VAC trucks. It really looked pretty good. We knew we didn't have it all because it sits in crevices and things like that. Mother nature took care of us and brought us a deluge of rain and that changed everything that we were doing. The spill now is farther down. Everything we had in was washed out. The ditch line right behind me, if you would have seen that, it got up about five feet which there wasn't anything in it, so now it's contaminated the banks up five feet on each side."
Some residents worried about the impact the oil could have on wildlife and marshes in the area.
John Settle, Regional Pollution Response Coordinator with the Department of Environmental Quality tells WAVY.com, "Not a single bird, not a frog, a turtle, a fish, nothing has been sited to be in distress or actually have died from any of this oil release."
He went on to say, "In the marsh we found that a lot of time mother nature is the better custodian than we are, so once we've got all the free product up, and evaporation the next day or two has taken place, we'll evaluate the marsh and determine is there a little bit of mitigation we can do to promote mother nature recovering faster than if we came in there with pressure washers and disturbed it."
Logan is also confidant the marshes will be okay.
"Marshes are extremely important to us and they'll cleanse themselves and if we go mess with them, then we'll dig, we'll mess up the roots and that can hurt that."
Fred Gaskins with the City of Hampton told WAVY.com Wednesday residents living around the area should keep their pets from going in the oil-stained water, which has snaked from the spill site on to Power Plant Parkway.
Capt. Chittum told WAVY.com it's been determined the leak was accidental in nature. He says a part of the tank that the used motor oil was housed in had rusted, causing the leak.
Hampton Fire Department's Hazmat team responded to the scene along Mingee Drive Sunday afternoon, as did the Virginia Department of Emergency Management and Department of Environmental Quality.
Capt. Chittum said the spill is not affecting drinking water at this time.
Settle says he believes the oil will be contained and cleaned up soon.
"This specific incident will probably take about another day, day and a half and then once that's done, all the free product is out, now we have to take another evaluation of what soils have to be removed, what vegetation has to be removed, has there been any impact to state or private property and if so how can we remediate that?"
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