PRKN Posts $1500 Reward for Information on Source of November 2016 Oil Plume

[December 6, 2016 Update: EPA determines that NRG’s power plant at Dickerson, Maryland, is responsible for the oil spill.]

oil spill

On December 1, we announced that we are offering a $1000 reward for information identifying those responsible for the plume of pollution in the Potomac River that forced area water utilities to take measures to protect the drinking water of millions of area residents this week. Today, the reward was raised to $1500.

We’re treating this as an environmental crime. We want to send the message that it’s illegal and completely unacceptable for anyone to dump any amount of oil into the river and threaten the drinking water supply for millions of people. We’re concerned that investigators have been unable to find the source of the oily substance — and, in turn, determine exactly what it is — for five days.


Photo from Neal Augenstein, WTOP

An oily substance floating on the surface of the river was identified last Sunday about 45 miles upstream of the District, near Point of Rocks, Maryland. River models predict that it could arrive in the District as soon as today or tomorrow. Local utilities have set booms, closed intakes and/or increased the frequency of monitoring to avoid introducing the unidentified pollution into municipal water supplies.

No matter how small, dumping chemicals or oil in to the river is illegal. It requires an extraordinary amount of resources from public agencies and utilities to respond to protect our drinking water source.

Our rivers are vital to our health and our economy. When individuals or corporations use these public resources as their private dump, it impacts us all. That’s why we’re offering a reward to encourage anyone who saw something, to say something.

The sheer size of our watershed demands that citizens play a role in its protection. Our organization was founded on the idea that those closest to our rivers — through their work or their recreation — are best able to identify and prevent pollution. The more people realize how valuable our rivers are and play a role in protecting them, the more likely we are to prevent situations like this.

The EPA is the lead federal agency coordinating the response and spearheading the investigation to identify the source of the pollution. Potomac Riverkeeper Network will pass along information it receives to EPA to aid in their investigation.

Tips about potential sources of this pollution can be reported to us at



Mysterious oily sheen on the Potomac is en route to D.C., Washington Post, November 29, 2016

What caused that mysterious sheen in the Potomac? An environmental group will give you $1,000 if you know, Washington Post, December 1, 2016

With cause of Potomac sheen still unclear, group offers $1,000 reward, WTOP, December 2, 2016