Sunday, March 11, 2007

ACE & OneBrick Volunteers' Discovery Sparks County Investigation

We had a great time at Saturday's Four Mile Run cleanup, with a chilly morning turning into a beautiful spring-like day. We'll have a review of the cleanup posted to What's Up Arlington shortly, but first I wanted to spread the word on some startling discoveries made by the volunteers.

The cleanup took place along Four Mile Run behind Barcroft Park, with volunteers fanning out down the stream banks past several businesses. Behind the Jiffy Lube at 4148 S. Four Mile Run Drive, volunteers noticed discolorations on the stream bank -- part of it orange, part of it oily. In the attached photo, you can see the orange discoloration with the oily sheen to the right.

Park officials plan to have the Arlington County Fire Department investigate the discolorations on Monday, and I'll report their findings as soon as I hear them. ACE Executive Director Elenor Hodges tells me it's possible that what we saw is an orange algae that grows along parts of the stream (although that wouldn't explain the oily spot). Anyone recognize if this is it?

Another volunteer found an entire transmission embedded in the stream itself. Park rangers advised him to leave it in place, fearing an attempt to remove it could release the transmission's contents into the stream. You can see the transmission in the lower left of this photo. A longtime ACE volunteer told me it's not the first time car parts have been found in the stream below the Jiffy Lube, but it's hard to say where they came from since car parts are commonly found all over that stretch of stream.

Volunteers reported filling three large trash bags with oily towels and light blue rubber gloves -- the same color gloves worn by the Jiffy Lube workers. I don't have a photo of the scene (I wish the volunteers had given me a heads up about the towels and gloves before they'd picked them all up), but I walked behind the Jiffy Lube and saw several light blue gloves and towels on the Jiffy Lube property that abuts the stream bank, along with dozens of bottles and old coffee cups.

I talked briefly with the Jiffy Lube manager, but on a busy Saturday morning with a long line of customers, he seemed too frazzled to get into a long discussion. I told him what we'd found and gave him a heads up the county would be coming by to investigate.
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