Coast Guard continues response to oil spill in Potomac River

Coast Guard Sector Baltimore Logo 2004BALTIMORE – The Coast Guard and local agencies continue to respond Friday to a mineral oil spill that occurred Sunday in the Potomac River near Alexandria, Va.

Approximately 1,500 gallons of an estimated 5,500 gallons have been recovered from the waters of the Potomac River after a transformer at the Pepco substation began leaking Sunday, with a remaining 4,000 gallons currently unaccounted for.

Coast Guard Sector Baltimore’s Incident Management Division members, who were notified Sunday by the National Response Center, have been working with Pepco and the hired contractors, Triumvirate Environmental and Clean Harbors, to continue efforts to contain and collect the oil.

Currently 2,000 feet of hard containment boom, 1,700 feet of absorbent boom and 750 feet of sweep, which consists of pads strung together, have been deployed to the affected area.

The oil sheen is reported to extend approximately 2,000 yards north of the Pepco substation and as far south as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

“At this point, what we can see out there is mostly oil sheen,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Anthony Matulonis a marine science technician at Sector Baltimore. “When oil spreads out, it starts to become unrecoverable because the surface area is too thin. The good news is that over time, nature will start a biodegradation process, which is basically when sunlight, wave action and wind naturally remove the oil.”

“Since the initial notification, Coast Guard pollution investigators have been on scene monitoring the mineral oil spill clean-up efforts,” said Cmdr. Brian Roche, the deputy commander of Sector Baltimore. “The responsible party, Pepco, has taken positive steps with their response efforts and been receptive to proposed courses of action offered by Coast Guard marine science technicians. We will continue to observe the recovery efforts and ensure the necessary steps are taken to complete the clean-up.”

The Coast Guard will continue to monitor the cleanup and investigate the cause of the spill.

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