AG Racine Announces Ward 5 Property Owners Charged $350k Penalty for Toxic Oil Leaks And Spills, Cleanup Required

Settlement Partially Resolves a 2018 Lawsuit Alleging a Decade of Environmental Law Violations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced a settlement with Andrew Schaeffer and 2201 Channing St., LLC, the owners of a Ward 5 commercial property where a group of auto repair and sales businesses violated environmental laws for several years. The consent judgment comes out of a 2018 lawsuit filed by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) against Schaeffer, his company, and the businesses operated on his property, for improperly storing hazardous waste and allowing used oil to spill and leak into District storm sewers and other public spaces. According to the lawsuit, these parties repeatedly ignored citations from the District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). As part of the settlement, Schaeffer and his company will ensure that the assessment and remediation of the 2201 Channing St. NE property complies with the District’s environmental laws, perform environmental assessments and potential cleanup at six other Ward 5 properties owned by Schaeffer and his affiliated companies, and pay the District $350,000 in civil penalties. This settlement partially resolves the suit, but OAG will continue to pursue other defendants that share responsibility for the pattern of environmental violations.

“District businesses have a legal responsibility to ensure hazardous waste they create does not pollute or harm the District’s water systems, such as the Anacostia River, and other natural resources,” said AG Racine. “For years, Mr. Schaeffer and these companies ignored repeated warnings from District authorities that they had caused illegal leaks and spills of used oil on and off the property. As a result of this settlement, the defendants will now clean up their properties and ensure all hazardous waste is properly stored and secured. The Office of the Attorney General will not hesitate to take action against any business that violates the District’s environmental laws.”

The District’s Water Pollution Control Act of 1984 prohibits discharge of pollutants into the waters of the District. The Hazardous Waste Management Act of 1977 comprehensively regulates the handling, storage, management and disposal of hazardous waste, including used oil. It requires generators of hazardous waste to take specific steps to prevent and contain spills and to clean up and manage any spills that do take place.

The auto repair and sales businesses—Right Hour Auto Sales Inc., Wave Rides Company, and Capitol Hill Auto Repair Inc.—were Schaeffer’s tenants and operated out of his property at 2201 Channing St. NE in Ward 5’s Langdon neighborhood. Although the property is currently vacant, these businesses handled and stored hazardous materials, including used automotive oil, as part of their work to repair and service cars. OAG is still pursuing these companies for their role in violating the District’s environmental laws. The property is 400 feet from a storm water catchment basin that discharges into Hickey Run, a tributary of the Anacostia River. In addition to this property, Schaeffer owns six other properties on Kenilworth Ave. NE.

Starting in 2008, DOEE cited the businesses on the property multiple times for a range of violations, including failure to properly store and contain used oil; illegally discharging it onto nearby sidewalks, streets, and storm sewers; and neglecting to respond to spills that occurred. In 2018, DOEE referred the matter to OAG—the first time the department referred a case to OAG as an independent agency for violations of the District’s environmental regulations.

Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants are required to:

  • Pay the District a $350,000 civil penalty: As a result of these violations, the defendants must pay the District a total of $350,000 in penalties over the course of 90 days.
  • Ensure compliance with the District’s Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) Program: A previous assessment of the 2201 Channing St. NE property uncovered an abandoned underground storage tank, triggering the need for a separate compliance assessment under the District’s LUST program. The defendants must complete this process and demonstrate to the District that the property meets cleanup standards.
  • Assess additional sites to determine if any further environmental remediation is needed: Schaeffer owns six additional commercial properties located at 1013-1015, 1075, 1155, 1215, 1235, and 1239 Kenilworth Ave. NE. Within 60 days, the defendants must perform environmental site assessments at each property. Should additional environmental issues exist, Schaeffer and his company are required to correct them and undergo additional site assessments.

A copy of the consent order is available at:

OAG’s Environmental Enforcement Work
Over the last two years, OAG has—with the support of the Council—deployed additional resources to protect the environment and address persistent local environmental problems, including those that disproportionately impact low-income communities. Since first filing suit against Right Hour, OAG has forced a landlord to clean up toxic lead paint that put children at risk; recovered $52 million from Monsanto for its role in the spread of toxic PCBs in the District’s waters and other natural resources; and settled a lawsuit with Greyhound over air pollution violations at Union Station that led the company to adopt bus anti-idling policies nationwide. OAG has also recovered $2.5 million from a power plant that discharged oil into the Potomac River and is deeply involved in the District’s ongoing cleanup of the Anacostia River. Additionally, OAG has joined multistate lawsuits to stop the Trump administration from rolling back critical environmental protections, such as auto emissions standards and Clean Water Act rules.

District residents should report suspected violations of environmental law to DOEE through a smartphone app available here