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News Releases from Region 03

NRG Dickerson Plant Found to be Source of Potomac River Sheen

Company Agrees to Join Unified Command Working to Remedy the Situation, Protect Public Health

Contact Information: 
Terri A. White (white.terri-a@epa.gov)

PHILADELPHIA, (December 5, 2016) – The Unified Command, led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, has identified the NRG Dickerson Power Plant in Maryland as the source of the sheen that showed up on the Potomac River more than a week ago.  U.S. Coast Guard laboratory analysis on Dec. 5 of sheen samples taken from the River identified the product as lubricating oil matching samples taken at the Dickerson plant and at Whites Ferry.  NRG officials have been notified and agreed to join the Unified Command as the responsible party.  All Unified Command parties are working to remedy the problem and ensure protection of public health. The discharge, which has largely dissipated, was less than 150 gallons.  

On Nov. 27, NRG notified and began working with EPA and other Unified Command agencies to identify the source.  By Dec. 2, the sheen had diminished considerably, with nominal sheen sighted in two locations – south of Whites Ferry and near NRG’s Dickerson power plant.  On Dec. 4, shoreline assessments completed by foot and then by boat from Whites Ferry up to the Dickerson Plant revealed degraded sheen in these same areas.  There is no evidence of new sheen.  Rather, it appears that degraded sheen from the original discharge which is lodged in small discreet spots south of the plant, releases due to changing weather and shoreline conditions.

Inspections at all locations where boom is in place to protect drinking water intakes confirmed that the boom continues to divert the degraded sheen away from intake locations. Inspection and maintenance of boom will continue, as will sampling at water intakes by the water utilities.  EPA continues to support requests for analyses performed by the agency’s mobile lab on-site at the Dalecarlia Water Treatment Plant.   

Based on information provided to EPA during daily conference calls with the water utilities, none of the intakes actively used by water utilities have revealed spill-related constituents.  Treated water is also being sampled by water utilities to determine if spill-related constituents are present.

The Unified Command consists of EPA, the U.S. Coast Guard, Maryland Department of Environment, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Virginia Department of Health, Washington D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment, and NRG.