Hazmat Situation Near Roosevelt Island

by ARLnow.com July 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm 4,400 38 Comments

(Updated at 4:30 p.m.) The Arlington County Fire Department is on the scene of a hazardous materials situation near Roosevelt Island.

U.S. Park Police, Arlington County Fire Department, and Alexandria Fire Department all responded when someone called in concerns about an odd smell.  Crews found the small spill in a creek near the entrance to the island and put booms in the water to contain it. Arrangements are being made to reinforce the boom when the tide changes so no containment is lost.

U.S. Park Police spokesman Sgt. David Schlosser says tests are being done on the substance to determine exactly what it is.  Based on the odor, coloration and gelling it is believed to be a petroleum product, possibly a type of diesel fuel.

Nobody was injured from inhaling fumes. Schlosser says it would be very unlikely that this type of product would cause respiratory harm, but workers stationed at the spill are being monitored for any signs of illness.

The National Park Service has arranged for a hazmat mitigation company to clean up the product, but is not sure yet when that team will arrive. Emergency crews will remain at the scene until the clean up is complete.

It’s possible that the bridge connecting Roosevelt Island to the parking lot may have to be shut down temporarily, but for now, pedestrians are being allowed to pass. Investigators are now working to find 0ut who or what spilled the substance.


    What is boom. FREDTERP

  • CW

    Boom is a term for that floating foam stuff they use to contain spills. It came into the common vernacular after the BP incident.

    Sounds like a jet peed itself!!

    • CW

      Sorry, needed a picture…

  • Lou

    Since when is the river our responsibility?

    • Arlwhenever

      Good point — the Potomac River is in Maryland and the District right up to the high water mark on the Virginia side (mean high tide). Roosevelt Island and the river around it is the District’s responsibility.

      • Lou

        Riparian ownership!

      • chicom

        Funny, Fairfax County seemed to think otherwise when they were fighting over that water intake a few years back.

        • Lou

          They won that case, too. If you dig up the oral arguments to the Supreme Court, there was some funny sh!t going on in that chamber.

          • doodly

            Yep, they won. Virginia’s good at sucking the water up, but when it comes to taking responsibility for keeping it clean, or keeping it flowing adequately, they don’t care so much.

    • doodly

      So if a guy was drowning a few feet from the Virginia shore, you’d call the DC fire department?

      • Arlwhenever

        No, I would jump in and save the guy. But I wouldn’t jump in if there was nothing but an oil slick.

        • doodly

          But an oil slick is still an emergency that threatens human health.

          • Arlwhenever

            As we learned in the Gulf of Mexico last summer after the BP well was capped, in the heat of the season oil left to its own degrades and dissapates. There is no emergency — none.

          • doodly

            No, oil is not harmless just left alone.

            No, this is not the Gulf of Mexico, this is a river in an urban area.

            Please don’t make stupid comments, they’re stupid.

  • y8s

    Is this related to the gawdawful paint thinner smell last night around 8:30-9pm on the parkway near the key bridge?

    holy crap that stunk.

    • Tre

      On the exit from the GW pkwy to 50W I had noticed that gas type smell yesterday

      • doodly

        Could be somebody illegally dumped something. It happens alot. Sad.

        • CW

          Sorry about that. I’d been to hard times and delhi club earlier in the day and couldn’t help it.

          • TGEoA

            Sounds like you really did move.

          • CW

            Part of me did, at least.

  • SaveDaveMcKenna

    Arlington has been pretty gassy the last several months.

    • JS

      damn pizza places….

  • brendan

    in terms of river ownership, dc/arlington/fairfax/maryland/virginia.

    DC has proven to be much more territorial in terms of ownership rights than Maryland. Virginia residents are generally given more latitude in terms of recreational access in the Maryland section, and the two states often work together on water quality and recreational policy. Meanwhile, DC won’t even allow you to throw a fishing line in the water if you’re standing on Virginia side without going through their arcane permitting process. I sincerely hope we send DC and/or the responsible party the bill for all of this.

    • brendan

      tho… if it is flowing in from a creek in Virginia, that does change things. Initially sounded like it had occurred in the middle of the river.

      There are a couple places where small streams flow in there on the VA side, all of which drain Rosslyn and if it was a business, they better pray for rain otherwise it can likely be traced to the source.

      • doodly

        It can’t be traced to the source if someone came by and dumped it from a truck in the middle of the night.

        • brendan

          i was implying a business in rosslyn. of course, it is almost impossible to catch someone pouring crap down a storm drain from a truck unless you see them in the act.

    • doodly

      Hmm. In the old days, they would dock riverboats at Rosslyn and other parts of the Virginia shore and run casinos and brothels in them. Virginia didn’t have jurisdiction because they were in the water, and Maryland and DC didn’t care because it wasn’t affecting them. It was a great little loophole.

  • ArlingtonLawyer

    Possibly a jet fuel dump from a plane coming into DCA?

    • Max

      No plane that lands at DCA is capable of dumping fuel, except for the very rare occasion a 767 lands at DCA. Also, they wouldn’t dump fuel over a populated area.

      • Ted williams

        Huh? MD-80s can dump fuel and plenty of them operate out of DCA.

        Doesn’t matter anyway because fuel evaporates after being dumped before it reaches the ground.

        • doodly

          You’re claiming that fuel dumped at that altitude would all evaporate? Hardly.

          But if had been a fuel dump, we’d have known about it. The airport would have called the authorities.

          A fuel dump is unlikely in this region. A plane in distress that has time to dump fuel would probably find a better place to do it.

  • CW

    Oh jeez, it’s one of those small creeks that runs near the island? From what I’ve seen, the hazmat team appears to be a couple decades late. While they’re down there, they should check out that filthy sewer that flows into the potomac a little further down the parkway, near where the bike trail goes over the wooden boardwalk. Bet they’ll find some good stuff in there too.

  • BlueSkies

    Nooo! Not Roosevelt Island! It’s awesome over there.

    What was the source for that paint thinner smell last night folks mentioned above? I noticed whiffs of something similar in Clarendon and couldn’t tell where it was coming from.

  • Loocy

    So how would something like this end up in the water, and why?

    • doodly

      A tank leak or someone dumping hazmats illegally rather than paying for legal disposal are the most likely culprits.

  • Sweet Lou


    To my knowledge, there is no such thing as the “U.S. Parks Department” or “U.S. Park Service.” If there is, they certainly do not govern any of the lands in Arlington.

    I know it seems petty, but it sounds bad when you are quoting agencies that don’t exist.

  • othersideoftheriver

    Ok, days later: Any followup that you know of?


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