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NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain — Navy crews are trying to figure out how 3,500 gallons of jet fuel leaked and spilled during a transfer between tanks this week in Rota.

The spill happened Tuesday at the naval station’s “fuel farm,” a section near the base’s family housing neighborhood, base spokesman Lt. Corey Barker said Thursday.

Most of the spill was contained to a 12-foot-deep reservoir underneath a set of valves that controls the flow of fuel between tanks.

The concrete pit filled with 1,500 gallons of JP-5 fuel, which is commonly used in military aircraft. About 2,000 more gallons spilled over the side of the reservoir.

The base’s fuel department, fire department and a safety team rushed to the scene to stop the leak.

Crews began pumping fuel out of the pit area within 20 minutes of the call, Barker said.

“We’re really proud of our crews in how fast they got to the scene,” he said.

Inspectors are not sure what caused the leak.

Crews dug a 12- to 14-foot well near the pit to collect any fuel that seeped into the ground. Once the well is full, they will use a pump to suck out any remnants.

Navy fuel specialists said the goal is to return the site to the condition it was before the leak, Barker said. So far, 2,000 gallons have been recovered.

Moisture in the ground helped prevent some of the fuel from seeping deeper into the ground.

The pungent fuel could be smelled in some areas of housing, but the spill posed no danger to residents, Barker added.

JP-5 is the Navy’s primary jet fuel. It is a colorless liquid that smells similar to kerosene, the primary ingredient of the fuel.

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