On February 12, 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that the source of an oily sheen discovered on February on the Potomac River near the Roaches Run Wildlife Sanctuary in Arlington County, Va., originated in a January 24, 2016, spill of 13,500 gallons of mineral oil used to cool transformers at Dominion Virginia Power’s Crystal City substation. Also on February 12, Dominion officials stated that they concurred with the findings and would take full responsibility for the impacts of the oil reaching the Potomac. About eight miles of the Potomac were affected by the oil, killing 21 birds and requiring treatment for over 30 others. On February 8, the Coast Guard, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Arlington County Department of Environmental Services, and the Washington, D.C., Department of Energy and the Environment had investigated the spill by means of a dye test in stormwater drains near the wildlife sanctuary.
In June 2016, Dominion conducted more dye tests in attempting to determine how the leak occurred.
Sources and other media articles about the incident:
Dominion to dye-test runoff into wildlife refuge near airport, Washington Post, 6/15/16.
Opinion: Mount Vernon Column: About the Potomac Oil Spill, Mount Vernon Connection, 2/18/16 [commentary by Virginia House of Delegates Member Paul Krizek of Alexandria].
13,500 Gallons of Mineral Oil Flow into Potomac, Virginia Connection Newspapers, 2/17/16.
Potomac oil spill came from Dominion, utility admits, Washington Post, 2/12/16.
Coast Guard links Potomac sheen to Dominion oil spill, Bay Journal, 2/12/16.
Dominion spill to blame for oily sheen, wildlife deaths on Potomac, Inside NoVa, 2/12/16.
Dominion Power accepts responsibility for Potomac River oil sheen, WTOP Radio-Washington, 2/12/16.
Unified Command Still Investigating Potomac River Oil Sheen, Military.com, 2/11/16.
Local Agencies Investigate Oil Sheen on Potomac River, Alexandria Times, 2/11/16.
First Oil Sample Results in from Gravelly Point Spill: U.S. Coast Guard, Arlington Patch, 2/8/16.
Coast Guard identifies oil in refuge and river as fuel oil; source still unknown, Washington Post, 2/8/16.
Coast Guard: Fuel oil in Potomac evaporating on its own, WTOP Radio-Washington, 2/8/16.
Delaware’s Tri-State Bird Rescue decontaminates geese after Potomac oil spill, WDEL Radio-Wilmington, Del., 2/8/16.
Some birds lost feathers; oil clean-up continues on the Potomac, WUSA TV-Washington, 2/8/16.
Coast Guard to dye storm water system in search of oil spill source, Washington Post, 2/8/16.
Dye Test Planned on Potomac River Oil Sheen, MarineLink.com, 2/8/16.
Oil sheen on Potomac near DC under investigation, Bay Journal, 2/5/16; updated 2/7/16.
Source of Potomac oil spill still a mystery as sheen begins to dissipate, Washington Post, 2/6/16.
Oil sheen found in the Potomac River appears to have dissipated, Washington Post, 2/5/16.
|Oily Substance Coats Bird Sanctuary, 8 Miles of Potomac River, NBC4 TV Washington, 2/5/16.
Coast Guard, Partner Agencies Respond To Potomac River Sheen; Treat Affected Waterfowl, AlexandriaNews.org, 2/7/16.
Mysterious oily sheen on Potomac River in Arlington impacting birds, fish, Inside NoVa, 2/5/16.
Official: Oil sheen on Potomac River has decreased dramatically, WTOP-Radio Washington, 2/5/16.
‘Petroleum-Based Substance’ Found in Potomac River, Old Town Alexandria Patch, 2/5/16.
Coast Guard working to clean oil sheen from Potomac River, WTOP Washington, 2/5/16.