Potomac River oily sheen containment successful, officials say

WASHINGTON –  Things are improving at the cleanup site where the U.S. Coast Guard and local environmental agencies are trying to contain an oily sheen in the Potomac River.

“We know that the containment has been successful. So we haven’t had any additional seepage from the Roaches Run area into the main stem,” said Julia Robey Christian with the District’s Department of Energy and Environment.

Results of a Coast Guard flyover Friday showed the sheen had largely dissipated and they found “minor wisps and streaking for about 8 miles south,” Robey Christian said.

But she says the area of containment has not extended beyond how the U.S. Coast Guard and wildlife biologists initially found it last week.

There are no new reports of affected wildlife to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coast Guard has identified where the substance got into the water.

“Now the trick is going to be trying to figure out the trace of how it got into the storm water system in the first place,” she says.

Starting Monday, the Coast Guard will work with Virginia Department of Environmental equality and Arlington County to start tracing the storm drain systems to start to investigate any potential source.

Teams on scene are also assessing how they’ll clean up the containment zone, but plan to stay and monitor the sheen until it fully dissipates, Robey Christian says.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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