On February 3, 2016, the Alexandria Fire Department (AFD) received a report of a “sheen” on the river reportedly from Alexandria to almost eight miles south. On-duty crews investigated and found an unknown product, but no source. AFD contacted the U.S. Coast Guard, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, the Virginia Department of Emergency Management’s Hazardous Materials Response Branch, National Airport, and the DC Fire Department.
AFD’s initial investigation determined that the sheen had been reported as early as February 1 at National Airport and February 2 in DC, both upstream from Alexandria. Although Alexandria was not the lead response jurisdiction, AFD continued to look for any potential impacts on the Alexandria waterfront. On February 4, AFD and National Airport fireboats checked waterfront locations including the airport, the power plant, and the fuel docks at the City Marina, Jones Point, and National Harbor.
On February 4, AFD and National Airport crews identified a “petroleum-based” substance near Gravelly Point Park, and National Airport crews began to deploy containment devices. Later in the day, the location of the issue was narrowed to Roaches Run, and the City confirmed with the DC Department of Energy & Environment (DC DOEE) and the U.S. Coast Guard that those were the two lead agencies co-managing response.
On the morning of February 8, three Alexandria Fire Department crews performed shoreline reconnaissance and found no observable sheen accumulations, or any obvious remaining threats to the environment or waterfowl.
Alexandria’s drinking water comes from the Occoquan Reservoir and from the Fairfax Water Corbalis plant in Herndon, on the Potomac River but far upstream from Roaches Run.
For more information about the investigation, please refer to the following links. Twitter is often the best source for official agency updates. Note that a Facebook or Twitter account is not required to view agency Facebook or Twitter feeds.