NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A malfunctioning gasket caused a pipe to rupture, leading to 60,000 gallons of liquid sewage accidentally discharging into a harbor at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek on Thursday morning.
That harbor feeds into the Chesapeake Bay.
The pipe was at a Navy pump station. The Virginia Department of Health determined the dump does not pose a significant health risk to the public.
Base Public Works also recovered an additional 60,000 gallons of liquid sewage from associated drainage lines. Luckily, a dry well on base prevented further discharge.
“Naval facilities personnel took immediate action to isolate the ruptured pipe and contain the discharge and notified the National Response Center & Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. We are committed to the health and safety of our communities where we live and work,” said Capt. Dean VanderLey, Commanding Officer, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Mid-Atlantic.
Installation security first discovered the liquid under a door at a Navy pump house around 4 a.m. and immediately began accidental discharge procedures.
Crews were dispatched and stopped the spill by 8:30 a.m.
To be clear, it was not a case of neglect or human error, but a simple matter of mechanical malfunction.
"Unfortunately, equipment breaks sometimes," said Captain Joey Frantzen, commanding officer of JEB Little Creek-Ft Story. "What I'm most proud of is my security department identified this leak almost immediately made the right phone calls, got ahold the Public Works Department, Naval Facilities, so they could get their folks out on site, in coordination with HRSD, were able to isolate and stop this leak before it became something much more significant."
The cause of the break is still unknown at this time. An investigation is currently underway, and crews will remain on the scene until clean-up is complete.