From the Forum – What was sprayed on streets last night?

Photo by PoPville flickr user T. Mertens

What was sprayed on streets last night?:

“It smells like miso or chicken broth. And made a mess of cars.Any insight?”

Another reader writes via email:

“I took my dog for his morning walk and noticed a strong sewage odor on the street, Rock Creek Church Road NW (between Shepherd Street and 5th Street). Two other people on the street commented on the strong sewage odor. Then I noticed that all the cars parked on the street, including mine, were spattered with a gross brown liquid. The brown liquid looked thick like tree sap that will not easily wash off.

Could this be DC’s new road “treatment” for the sleet forecast for this afternoon? Do you know if it is safe? Upon closer inspection, the main road was definitely dark and wet looking and the side streets remained dry. Do you have any idea what this brown sewage smelling stuff is? Unfortunately, it tracks into folks homes on the bottom of shoes and pets feet.”

Ed. Note: on the 4D listserve a resident noted a “beet juice mixture is sometimes used as a de-icing agent for the roads”

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13 Comment

  • I live near Rock Creek Church and 5th, and I thought I was going crazy that something smelled like stale cheese biscuits when I was walking my dog this weekend.

  • It’s likely brine, which eats away at cars so wash your cars as soon as possible.

  • It’s a byproduct of industrial-scale beer production that helps prevent ice from forming on asphalt.

  • Walking to the metro this morning I was certain that I had stepped in dog poop because I couldn’t escape the smell. Checked the soles of my shoes twice – no poop. Definitely some funky sidewalks/roads out there.

  • There’ was a thread in reddit a month ago titled “What is this foul liquid they’re spraying on DC bridges?” which had a few responses saying it’s likely a mix of beet juice, soy sauce, and/or molasses mixed with the standard de-icing brine; the beet/soy/molasses is supposedly more environmentally friendly and doesn’t do as much damage as pure brine because it’s less corrosive. But the stuff stinks and looks like it stains easily.

  • DPW confirmed via Twitter that it’s a combination of beet juice and salt, that it’s not toxic or corrosive, but it also shouldn’t have been sprayed on cars.

  • ah

    Umami goodness!

  • Well, this stuff was savory rather sweet. I don’t think it was beet juice. Still curious.

    • i was trying to say savory rather than sweet, but autocorrect erred. Anyway, byproduct of beer production aligns with the olfactory evidence. Thanks!

  • Often leftover fracking waste fluid is sold to states to put on roads. Completely unsafe but the industry has pretty much a stranglehold on the EPA so we’ll continue to get poisoned by fracking waste in whatever way the corporations can make a buck off of us.

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