Hartsfield-Jackson fuel spill kills fish in Flint River

Flint River south of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with the approach lights of the fifth runway in the background.

Combined ShapeCaption
Flint River south of Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, with the approach lights of the fifth runway in the background.

A jet fuel spill at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport has killed fish in the Flint River.

The discharge of jet fuel near Concourse C by a fueling contractor was reported to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Division on Sunday.

Georgia EPD said approximately 400 gallons were spilled, while Hartsfield-Jackson said preliminary estimates put it at 700 gallons of jet fuel that spilled onto the ramp. The airport said Louis Berger, the contractor that manages two of the airport’s fuel farms, used barriers and oil absorbent material to respond to the emergency.

However, some fuel made it to a storm drain and fuel was found in the Flint River, where “a fish kill has been observed,” according to Georgia EPD.

The agency said environmental restoration crews are on the Flint River using absorbent pads and barriers to contain the spread of the fuel. Vacuum trucks are also on site.

The fuel spill was reported shortly after midnight Sunday, and normal operations resumed by 3:30 p.m. Sunday, according to the airport. The cause of the fuel spill is being investigated.

The Flint River flows underneath the airport and emerges just south of the airfield, then flows to southwest Georgia.

This is far from the first spill at Hartsfield-Jackson. The airport had a sewage spill into the Flint River in January 2020, causing a water quality violation. In 2017, a problem with a fuel servicing unit caused a 1,000-gallon fuel spill.

Earlier this year, the Georgia EPD fined Hartsfield-Jackson $22,914 for 13 sewage spills at Hartsfield-Jackson over the last decade. Two of the spills killed fish and in one case, sewage overflowed onto dry land.