ORANGEBURG COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said there are no environmental concerns regarding toxicity and damage to a pond in Orangeburg County after an F-16 fighter pilot jettisoned his two external fuel tanks into the pond in order to make a safe landing on Wednesday.
Officials with Shaw Air Force Base say a combined search team from the base, DHEC and Department of Natural Resources successfully recovered two external fuel tanks from Etheredge Mill Pond on Thursday.
"According to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SC DHEC), there are no environmental concerns regarding toxicity and damage to the pond," military officials said." SC DHEC said any fuel leaked from the tanks is a bio-substance. As a bio-substance, it would have risen to the top water level of the pond and subsequently evaporated safely into the atmosphere within hours."
Shaw Air Force Base officials say the incident happened around 12:30 p.m. when a 20th Fighter Wing F-16C pilot was on a training mission and experienced an in-flight emergency.
"After following checklist procedures, the pilot jettisoned two 370-gallon external fuel tanks over an unpopulated area near North, South Carolina," officials said.
According to officials, jettisoning the fuel tanks allowed the pilot to make a safe landing at the North Auxiliary Airfield.
"We're very happy that no one was hurt and that the pilot was able to land safely," said Col. William Jones, 20th Fighter Wing vice commander.
The cause of the incident is currently under investigation.