Cleanup of debris and environmental damages caused by Sunday’s military training jet crash in North Texas could last as long as a couple of weeks, a Navy on-site coordinator for cleanup efforts said Monday evening.
John Baxter, the civilian overseeing the collection of debris and environmental recovery for Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Southwest, said all debris from the aircraft should be cleaned up within the next couple of days. The environmental portion of the process will take longer, though, he said.
The biggest factor of environmental concern is the jet fuel, Baxter said. In the following weeks, the Navy will excavate soil in the area of the crash using special instruments designed to help crews locate jet fuel that has contaminated the ground. Once all the fuel-contaminated soil crews can identify has been removed, they will take samples of the soil and send it to a lab for testing.
If tests confirm that the soil is no longer contaminated, fresh earth will be brought in to leave the ground as it was before the incident, Baxter said.
Cleanup of the aircraft debris has to be painstakingly precise as the aircraft’s remains will be essential in determining what happened leading up to and causing the crash. While Baxter said most of the debris is in a very compact area around the crash site, orange and pink flags marking pieces of metal, plastic, rubber, canopy glass and parachutes were scattered across a field near Ole Donuts in Lake Worth, about a half mile from the final crash site. All of that will have to be collected as a part of the investigation and cleanup.
Sue Brink, Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command Southwest spokeswoman, said the area around the intersection of Tejas Trail and Foster Drive will be barricaded over the next few days. She said her team is working closely with residents to ensure they have continued easy but safe access to their homes and parking.
Baxter said that, being at the crash site, it is important to understand how lucky the outcome of this situation was.
“An aircraft came down in the back of several people’s homes and nobody was killed and that is a miracle,” Baxter said.
He said he and his team have appreciated the support and cooperation from neighbors as the cleanup and investigation process continues.
“Miracle” seems to be a common word used in describing the outcome of the crash. Residents in the area were reeling Monday knowing that it could have been much worse.
Residents said Monday it was a miracle damage to home wasn’t worse and nobody was killed.