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Fuel spill from plane crash causes environmental concerns

What appears to be an oil sheen in river concerns Lakewood family

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A National Transportation Safety Board Go team is in Jacksonville investigating how and why a Miami Air Boeing 737-800 slid into the St. Johns River. 

The team is also working to learn about possible fuel leaks into the river.

Floating barriers surround the plane to help contain fuel that may be leaking into the water and the area to make it easier to remove once the plane is moved. Officials say that could take up to several weeks. 

News4Jax spoke with Lakewood neighbors who say they noticed something unusual in her backyard that could be related to the plane skidding into the water.

“He said, 'What is all the shiny stuff on the water?' and the first thing I thought of was the plane because Naval Air Station Jacksonville is right over there,” Becky Loyacano, said.

Becky Loyacano lives in Lakewood off Christopher Creek which is a mile off the St. Johns River.
She and husband noticed a shiny, oily film in the creek behind her house Sunday morning.

The Loyacano’s say they are outside every day and notice different types of wildlife and they have never seen this type of film in the water since moving here in December.

Lisa Rinaman is the St. Johns Riverkeeper. She said there is still no clarity how much jet fuel is leaking into the St. Johns River.

“We’ve had several tides since this happened so it could be caught in different areas,” Rinaman said. 

The Riverkeeper has been out on the water monitoring the environment since the 737 skidded off the runway and into the river on Friday night.

Rinaman said the smell of fuel wasn’t as strong as the odor on Saturday.

She has not heard of any reported fish kills, but there are concerns with dolphins. 

“We are concerned because we have resident dolphins in the Saint Johns River in this area so they may have been exposed to some of the jet fuel,” she said.

There is a dredging project currently going on in part of the river, leaving the dolphin population pushed further up the river near NAS JAX. 

“We’re seeing the dolphin population aren’t around the dredging area which they normally are this time of the year, so we believe that they’ve gone further up river which could push them into harms way if there’s any jet fuel that might be out there,” Rinaman said. 

She said she was told the jet fuel is gasoline with antifreeze in it. 

“From my understanding, it does dissipate more easily than diesel then it goes into the air and that’s why the fumes were probably so bad yesterday (Saturday),” Rinaman said. 

The St. John Riverkeeper is asking if you see any sort of oil slick or wildlife that seems to have been impacted that you call the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 1-800-320-0519. 


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