Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Million Here, A Million There, Pretty Soon You're Talking About Real Pollution

Five million gallons of sewage spilled into the Potomac River on Wednesday. DC Water reports that about 638 million gallons of combined sewage flows into the Potomac River annually due to rainstorms.

DC Water says that the spillage occurred late in the day Wednesday when a break occurred in the Upper Potomac Intercepter, causing millions of gallons of sewage to spill onto the Capital Crescent Trail and overflow into the Potomac River. According to a release, the spill "ran overland and over the trail before reaching the river." As a result, parts of the Capital Crescent Trail—between Fletchers Cove and the end of the trail in Georgetown—will remain closed until cleanup has finished and the interceptor is repaired.

John Lisle, a spokesman for DC Water, says that the sewage spill has no effect on the city's drinking water, as the intakes on the Potomac River are upstream from where the spill occurred. He also says that cleanup and repairs for the sewage spill could take "a week or more" to complete. As of now, there's advisory for the public to "avoid contact with the Potomac River for 72 hours."
When will the cities get their acts together to prevent these overflows?

In other Potomac news, the origin of the "magical mystery oil" sheen on the Potomac from early in the month was identified as mineral oil used as a coolant for transformers, leaked at a nearby Dominion electrical substation:
An oil sheen that coated 8 miles of the Potomac River at its peak and killed 21 birds has been linked to a coolant leak at a Dominion Virginia Power facility, officials said on Friday.

U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer David Marin said a lab confirmed that samples of the sheen taken in Roaches Run off the Potomac matched samples from an oil leak at Dominion’s Crystal City Substation located near a storm drain.'

Dominion spokesman Rob Richardson confirmed last week that 13,000 gallons of mineral oil spilled Jan. 24 from a transformer at a power substation in Crystal City, not far from Roaches Run. He said at the time that there was “no evidence” that that spill was related to the sheen in the Potomac.

On Friday, after initially saying Dominion would accept responsibliity if its own testing confirmed the Coast Guard findings, Richardson later emailed: We concur with their findings that the substance was transformer mineral oil and we accept responsibility.....We will move with all due haste to work with the agencies to ensure the remaining cleanup work is done."

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