Taking Pepco Polluters to Court

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - 12:47pm

Today, Anacostia Riverkeeper is filing a motion to intervene in the lawsuit between Pepco and DC, to make sure Pepco takes responsibility for the toxic site at Benning Road and that they actually clean up the pollution.

Who and What: Anacostia Riverkeeper, Anacostia Watershed Society (AWS) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) have filed a motion with the District Court to intervene in this case.

One of our biggest goals here at Anacostia Riverkeeper is to clean up pollution, especially at the River’s toxic sites, and to hold polluters accountable.

Pepco’s Benning Road facility, with toxic chemicals spilled over the years posing a serious pollution problem for the Anacostia River, needs to be cleaned up.  DC filed a lawsuit in February to try to deal with the situation.  At the same time, DC and Pepco proposed a consent decree that they negotiated together in advance.  If this settlement had spelled out a true solution - calling on Pepco to take responsibility and clean up the Benning Road site - then this would be a victory.  Unfortunately, the settlement between Pepco and DC doesn’t go nearly far enough, and we think Pepco should be ordered to do much more.

What’s lacking in the Pepco-DC Settlement?
 
The proposed settlement...

  • Requires Pepco to conduct future studies, but doesn’t guarantee that Pepco will clean up the contamination.
  • Excludes local communities the process and from providing input.
  • Does not follow EPA guidance for a contaminated site like this.

 

We’re filing a motion today, with Anacostia Watershed Society and represented by NRDC, to intervene in the lawsuit.  The proposed settlement is not in the public interest, and Pepco should be ordered to do more to clean up this serious pollution problem that everyone acknowledges exists.  We also want to guarantee that the local communities that are most affected by this contamination have an opportunity to provide meaningful feedback into the cleanup process.
 
DC asked for public comment on the consent decree, and we’ve already shared our concerns with them.  But there’s no guarantee that they’ll represent our position to the court or change the proposed settlement before asking the court to sign off on it.  We’re moving to join this case to make sure the court hears all viewpoints before approving any settlement.

Be sure to also read AWS' blog about this action. And follow the story in the Washington Examiner. For more information, find out what Anacostia Riverkeeper is doing about toxic sites along the river.