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Settlement reached to halt illegal heavy metals discharges into Anacostia River from Pepco site | Anacostia Riverkeeper

Settlement reached to halt illegal heavy metals discharges into Anacostia River from Pepco site

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Monday, January 23, 2017 - 6:33pm

The Anacostia Riverkeeper is actively defending our right to clean, swimmable, fishable waterways and winning!

As a result of legal action undertaken with Jacobs Stotsky, PLLC back in 2015, we won our case against Pepco over 1,627 exceedances of permitted limits for copper, zinc, iron, cadmium and total suspended solids (TSS) that occurred between 2009 and 2016 from a single outfall (#013) at their 77 acre Benning Road Service Center Facility in Washington, DC.  A settlement reached between Pepco, the U.S. Department of Justice and Anacostia Riverkeeper (as plaintiff-intervenor) imposes a civil penalty of $1.6 million on Pepco and puts in place a Consent Decree under which Pepco will cease illegal discharges into the Anacostia River from Outfalls #013 and #101and to install storm water treatment systems and best management practices to remediate polluted storm water runoff on site.  The closure of Outfall 101 is a huge win for the river because this outfall has an NPDES permit with no numeric pollution limits assigned to it. Its closure will prevent an estimated daily load of 2 pounds of pollutants discharging into the Anacostia River.

During a 2015 compliance review, it was discovered that Outfall #013 was excluded from the 2011 Consent Decree ordering Pepco to investigate and remediate sources of PCB contaminants collected with storm water runoff from the Benning Road Facility.  Analysis of the NPDES records by Jacobs Stotsky staff uncovered 1,627 exceedances of permitted limits for copper, lead, zinc, iron and total suspended solids between the fourth quarter of 2009 and the first quarter of 2016.

On September 11, 2015, Anacostia Riverkeeper filed a Notice of Intent to file a citizen suit under Section 505(a)(1)(A) of the Clean Water Act (33 USC 1365(a)(1)(A)) against Pepco for violations of terms and conditions of DC National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Individual Permit DC 0000094 at the Benning Road Generating Station and Service Center Facility.  Shortly before the 60-day notice period had expired, the U.S. Department of Justice stepped in and filed suit against Pepco.  Anacostia Riverkeeper petitioned the court and was approved to remain as a plaintiff- intervener and was the only environmental organization to file notice in the case.

“Considering all the attention and money being invested in the Anacostia River Sediment Remediation Project, to determine the best remediation strategy for the legacy toxics embedded in the river bottom, it boggles my mind that anyone would look the other way and allow unfettered polluted runoff to further degrade an already severely impaired waterway in violation of the Clean Water Act.” said Emily Franc, Anacostia Riverkeeper.

As part of the settlement, Pepco will pay $1.6 million in civil penalties.  In addition to civil penalties, Pepco has agreed to divert all storm water from Outfall 013 into an onsite treatment system and to eliminate storm water discharges from Outfall 101 by summer of 2018.  The closure of Outfall 101 is a huge win for the river because this outfall has an NPDES permit with no numeric pollution limits assigned to it.  Its closure will prevent an estimated daily load of 2 pounds of pollutants from being discharged into the Anacostia River.

“As we see very clearly from the current PCB issues on the Anacostia River, an ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.  We look forward to Anacostia Riverkeeper’s continuing oversight relationship with Pepco and other potential sources of pollution on the river,” commented Dana Stotsky.

Representatives of Exelon/Pepco have made a clear commitment to meet regularly with Anacostia Riverkeeper as they move forward toward compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree. 

A copy of the Consent Decree may be accessed at https://www.justice.gov/enrd/consent-decree/us-et-al-v-potomac-electric-power-company-pepco

The public comment period will be open for 30 days from January 23 to February 22, 2017