A large quantity of an as yet unidentified petroleum product spilled into the Anacostia River Monday evening.
A brown swirling cloud of oil was covering about 80 percent of the width of the Anacostia River near Benning Road NE Monday evening.
Crews worked through the night to try to stop its spread. The spill stretched from Bladensburg Road in Prince George's County to the 11th Street bridge near the Washington Navy Yard in D.C., officials said this morning.
"There is a pretty significant amount of product in the river," D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Pete Piringer said Monday evening. "You can have 50 to 100 gallons of oil product in the water, and it looks really bad, because it just stays on the top. But this is pretty widespread."
The oil was floating on the surface of the river; and the smell of oil was very pungent close to the water's edge this morning.
A Hazardous Materials Response Unit (Hazmat) crew was laying out booms last night to trap some of the oil and keep it from spreading. U.S. Coast Guard officials were also responding to the spill this morning.
The exact source of the petroleum product is still unknown, but authorities believe the spill started somewhere in the 2600 block of Benning Road NE.
The environmental impact of the spill was still unknown this morning; on Monday evening there had been no signs of fish kills or damage to birds, but that may change as petroleum can be very toxic to aquatic organisms and birds.
The spill's possible effect on the environment has D.C. resident makes resident Phil Skitt, who was passing by the river this morning, a little nervous.
"My wife and our grandson and daughter here we walk every morning and obviously don't want it ruined," he says. "We love watching the wildlife, the birds."