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Officials identify source of substance in waterways near Mitchell International Airport

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Incident near Mitchell International Airport

MILWAUKEE -- The source of an unknown substance located in a waterway coming from Mitchell International Airport has been identified. It is jet fuel leaking from a valve that failed at an underground fuel pit near Gate E69. This gate is not currently used by any airline. The leak has been stopped.

Airport officials were first notified of an odor in airport sewer lines late on Monday, May 1st. The substance was also located in a waterway coming from Airport property.

Crews from the Airport Fire Department, Airport Operations, Airport Environmental, Wisconsin DNR, EPA and the Coast Guard all pitched in to identify the source of the substance.

Incident near Mitchell International Airport

At this time, the airport does not believe the leak involved a significant amount of fuel. Cleanup work is underway to contain and remove any remaining fuel in the water systems below the airport.

Incident near Mitchell International Airport

The incident did not have any impact on flights, vehicle traffic, or regular airport operations, officials say.

The fuel hydrant has since been shut off. Still, those who work along the creek are concerned about the potential impact on the wildlife.

"This is the second time within the last, maybe four or five years that I've noticed that we've had problems like this," said Paul Budzisz, Custom Grown Greenhouse.

Incident near Mitchell International Airport

As for an impact on airport operations, officials say the leak did not interfere with any flights -- adding that Gate E69 isn't open anyway.

Incident near Mitchell International Airport

The Wisconsin DNR released the following statement on the incident:

"The staff at Mitchell International Airport have taken the lead in responding to the spill incident and any questions should be directed to them.

  • The spill did enter a tributary, but the airport has deployed booms that are working to contain and remove any released material.

  • The DNR and the EPA are providing a supportive role to the airport’s response to the spill, and will assist the airport in addressing any environmental impacts of the release.

  • Our agency doesn’t speculate on what may or may not happen to the environment as a result of this, or any other spill. Any factual assessment would be made after the material is removed.

  • DNR and EPA staff will work with the airport and their consultant on resolving this problem."