Potomac Electric Power Company reaches Clean Water Act settlement with DOJ, EPA

Pepco to reduce pollution to Anacostia River.

The Anacostia River.
The Anacostia River.

WASHINGTON, DC, JANUARY 18, 2017 -- The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today a settlement with the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) for alleged violations of Pepco's Clean Water Act permit at its service center located in Anacostia. Under the settlement, Pepco will implement a number of measures to reduce metals in stormwater entering into its drainage system and will install an in-pipe treatment system to further treat the stormwater, which discharges into the Anacostia River. Pepco also will pay a civil penalty of $1.6 million. Pepco also agreed to perform a mitigation project to eliminate stormwater discharges from another outfall at the facility, and will pay an additional stipulated penalty of $500,000 if it fails to put the project into operation.

The United States filed its complaint in October, 2015, in the US District Court for the District of Columbia and alleged violations of limits in the EPA Clean Water Act Permit for metals, including copper, zinc, iron, and nickel, and total suspended solids (TSS). The consent decree filed with the court today requires Pepco to put into place Best Management Practices or BMPs to prevent the metals and other pollutants from entering into Pepco's stormwater drainage system, including booms and filters at each drain leading into the system, as well as enhanced inspections and other measures. In addition, Pepco will install in-pipe treatment systems in several areas to remove the metals from the stormwater in the drainage system until the permit limits are met. Pepco also will implement a mitigation project using vegetation and a holding pond to capture and treat stormwater that currently drains from the Benning Street facility into the Anacostia River.

At 8.7 miles, the Anacostia River is a major tributary of the Potomac River, which ultimately flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The Anacostia River is impaired for organics, heavy metals and sediment. EPA and its state partners, including the District of Columbia, have focused efforts on addressing pollution in the Anacostia River in the past decade, through Clean Water Act permits, judicial consent decrees, and other regulatory mechanisms.

"This agreement will aid the continuing recovery of the Anacostia River by cleaning up contaminated stormwater from this Pepco facility," said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden. "This is part of the ongoing and substantial efforts by EPA and the Department of Justice to address sources of water pollution and bring great American rivers like the Anacostia back to health. I have personally kayaked the River and know its importance in our Washington, D.C. ecosystem."

"Controlling stormwater runoff is essential to protecting and restoring our urban waterways" said EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin. "This settlement underscores EPA's commitment to continuing the progress that we and our partners have made along the Anacostia."

The Pepco facility historically included a power plant that was shut down in 2012 and has been removed. The property is also the subject of an on-going study and clean-up of soil and other contamination being performed under a consent decree with the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment.

On March 28, 2016, the District Court granted the request of the Anacostia Riverkeeper, an environmental organization, to intervene in the lawsuit.

The consent decree was lodged in the District Court for the District of Columbia. Notice of the lodging will appear in the Federal Register. The Decree is subject to a public comment period of not less than 30 days before the consent decree can be entered by the court. The consent decree can be viewed at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent Decrees.html.

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