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Authorities Work to Clean up Oily Substance on Potomac River

Potomac oil sheen response:  Dan Rauch, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environment, observes an oiled duck at Constitution Gardens in Washington, Fri., Feb. 5, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Laurel Siegrist)
Potomac oil sheen response: Dan Rauch, a wildlife biologist with the Department of Energy and Environment, observes an oiled duck at Constitution Gardens in Washington, Fri., Feb. 5, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 3rd Class Laurel Siegrist)

ARLINGTON, Va. -- At least six government agencies have been working to identify the source, size and composition of an oily substance that shimmered along the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

The U.S. Coast Guard said in a news release that the sheen was spotted Wednesday afternoon and extended about eight miles long, from Gravelly Point, just north of Reagan National Airport, to Jones Point, just north of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

Department of Energy and Environment spokeswoman Julia Robey Christian says it is unclear what the substance is, but it appears to be mineral oil.

Coast Guard Petty Officer David Marin says floating barriers were placed to capture the oil and stop its spread. Ten soiled Canada geese were captured and taken in by a bird-rescue organization for cleaning.

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