Unidentified plume spotted floating down Potomac River

- Water agency officials are monitoring an unidentified plume substance that was found floating down the Potomac River.

The plume, which has an oily sheen, was first identified on Sunday when it was spotted in the water near Point of Rocks, Maryland.

The exact nature of the substance is unknown, however, early testing indicates it could be something similar to a hydraulic fluid or lubricant.

The Environmental Protection Agency is now leading the investigation to find the source of the substance and coordinating the response to the incident.

The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) said its system is being maintained at full capacity and precautions have been taken at the Potomac Water Filtration Plant near where the plume is passing:

  • Crews placed a boom in the river to divert any floating substance away from the intake.
  • All maintenance activities that require flushing of pipes has been halted.
  • An enhanced monitoring plan is in place at the plant, including hourly tests of the water in the river near the intake and adding additional testing of the water as it comes into the plant and before water goes out into the distribution system.

At this point, WSSC does not expect any impact to its ability to meet customer demand, nor does it expect any adverse impact to its drinking water quality.

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