UPDATED: Draft consent decree announced for Washington Gas toxic site

On December 12, 2011, the District Department of Environment (DDOE) announced, along with its federal partners, the entry of a draft consent decree regarding clean up of the Washington Gas toxic site along the Anacostia River. 

This is a great step forward in a long process to get the site cleaned up.  Beginning in the late 1800s, Washington Gas and Light Company operated a gas manufacturing facility at the "East Station" site on the banks of the Anacostia River near 12th and M Streets SE.  Closed in the mid-1980s, the site has never been completely cleaned up despite a 2006 Record of Decision (PDF) concerning lands along the river.

Map of Washington Gas clean up site, courtesy of National Park Service
Map of Washington Gas clean up site, courtesy of National Park Service.
Cleanup will occur in segment along the river.

After years of waiting for government agencies to step up, positive action was taken when US EPA Region 3 Administrator Shawn Garvin issued a letter (PDF), dated August 16, 2010, notifying the government of Washington, DC that the site must be addressed "in a transparent and legally enforceable manner" by mid-December 2010. Unfortunately, because it took more than a year to reach agreement with Washington Gas, we were compelled to take legal action of our own in the hopes of keeping the process moving.

In August 2011 AWS, in partnership with Anacostia Riverkeeper, filed suit to compel clean up of the site under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA).  While we are still awaiting a ruling on that lawsuit, entry of this draft consent decree will impact the legal posture of our case.  AWS and ARK are reviewing our legal options with our attorneys.  Our foremost concerns are that there be a robust public process to include affected citizens and that the clean up be sufficient to ensure the health and safety of the river and the people who enjoy it.

The public can make official comments on the record until February 14, 2012 and we encourage you to make your voice heard.  Please contact AWS if you have any questions.  AWS will be making detailed comments on specific elements of the consent decree so stay tuned to our website for updates.

How to Comment

Federal Register Notice regarding Washington Gas consent decree

Comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environmental and Natural Resources Division, and either emailed to pubcomment-ees.enrd@usdoj.gov or mailed to P.O. Box 7611, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC 20044-7611, and should refer to United States of America and District of Columbia v. Washington Gas Light Company, Civil Action No. 1:11-cv-02199-RMC (D.D.C.), D.J. Ref. 90-11-2-08557/2. Commenters may request an opportunity for a public meeting in the affected area, in accordance with Section 7003(d) of RCRA.

Comments must be submitted by February 14, 2012

Resources

AWS Toxics Page

DDOE Anacostia page (scroll to bottom for consent decree documents)

National Park Service info page on Washington Gas site

Press

Washington Post story on Washington Gas consent decree

Consent Decree Documents

Consent Decree (PDF)

Statement of Work (PDF)

Site Map (PDF)

History of Actions at site (PDF)

Complaint (PDF)

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