WASHINGTON, D.C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine today announced a lawsuit against Rodgers Brothers Custodian Services, Inc. (Rodgers Brothers), a construction materials processing and recycling facility in Ward 5; its president, George Rodgers, Jr.; and a vice president, Mark Uhar, for repeatedly discharging petroleum and construction waste into District waters, including the Anacostia River. The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that between 2012 and 2014, inspectors from the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) cited the facility for several water and air quality violations, including for hosing sediment, dirt, garbage, and other industrial waste into a stormwater catch basin that flows into a tributary of the Anacostia. Despite these citations, the company did not stop its illegal activity, and DOEE inspectors observed at least four discharges of pollutants between 2016 and 2020. OAG is seeking an injunction to stop future discharges by the facility, as well as civil penalties.
“Despite numerous warnings and citations from the District over nearly a decade, Rodgers Brothers Custodian Services has continued to contaminate District waters, including the Anacostia River,” said AG Racine. “Enough is enough. We filed suit to hold the facility and its decisionmakers accountable for polluting our natural resources and failing to comply with District environmental law.”
Rodgers Brothers operates a trash transfer facility in Northeast D.C. The facility includes both a trash transfer area that collects construction and demolition debris for processing and an area that services machinery used to process waste. Mr. Rodgers and Mr. Uhar both make decisions about daily operations at the facility, including environmental compliance.
The Rodgers Brothers facility has a history of environmental non-compliance, including citations from DOEE for air and water pollution violations in 2012 and 2014. In 2013 and 2015, Rodgers Brothers paid fines after the District’s Office of Administrative Hearings found that the facility violated the Water Pollution Control Act and the Air Pollution Control Act. Despite these prior citations and penalties, the facility has continued to discharge waste into District waters.
In its lawsuit, OAG alleges that Rodgers Brothers, Mr. Rodgers, and Mr. Uhar violated the District’s Water Pollution Control Act by:
- Discharging petroleum into District waters: In February 2016, DOEE inspectors observed a mixture of petroleum and stormwater flowing from the service area of the facility into the nearby stormwater catch basin. The inspectors noted that the petroleum discharge was due to improper equipment storage at the site and counseled Mr. Uhar regarding the violation.
- Allowing dirt and debris to enter stormwater catch basins: In March 2016, DOEE inspectors noted that improper maintenance was allowing sediment from the facility to enter stormwater catch basins. Subsequent inspection found that Rodgers Brothers did not correct these maintenance failures and that sediment has continued to flow into stormwater catch basins.
- Clogging stormwater catch basins with garbage and debris: On at least two occasions in 2020, a DOEE inspector noted that stormwater catch basins near the facility were clogged with construction and demolition waste and debris from the Rodgers Brothers Site.
A copy of the complaint is available at: https://oag.dc.gov/sites/default/files/2021-01/Rodgers-Brothers-Complaint.pdf
With this lawsuit, OAG is seeking a court order to stop the facility and its decisionmakers from repeatedly allowing pollutants from the site to enter District waters. OAG is also seeking civil penalties to deter Rodgers Brothers and other facilities from flouting District laws that protect our environment.
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. OAG has obtained a $350,000 penalty from a property owner that leaked toxic used oil in Ward 5; 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.