Attorney General Schwalb Secures Judgment Against Ward 5 Trash Transfer Facility for Polluting District Waterways

Rodgers Brothers Custodial Services & President Must Pay $100K & Upgrade Environmental Protection Practices

WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today announced that Rodgers Brothers Custodial Services, Inc. and its president, George Rodgers, Jr., have been ordered to pay $100,000 for repeatedly discharging pollutants—including petroleum and sediment—into DC waterways at its Ward 5 trash transfer and recycling facility. The Court found Rodgers Brothers responsible for five illegal pollution discharges and held the company’s president individually responsible for two of the discharges, ordering him to pay half of the penalty amount.

“Washingtonians, no matter where they live, are entitled to enjoy clean air and water. My office is committed to using the law to advance environmental justice, ensure a level playing field for law-abiding businesses, and protect residents from polluters,” said Attorney General Schwalb. “This judgment sends a strong message to companies and their executives: if you flout our environmental laws and threaten the health and safety of our residents, we will hold you accountable.”

“The ruling against Rodgers Brothers Custodial Services is a victory for Ward 5 neighbors and District residents alike. I applaud Attorney General Brian Schwalb for his continuing efforts to improve the District’s environmental health, which is a top concern for Ward 5 neighbors,” said Ward 5 Councilmember Zachary Parker. “I have long championed environmental justice, including through my Environmental Justice Amendment Act of 2024, which seeks to prevent Ward 5 from continuing to be a dumping ground for environmentally harmful entities. Both when that law is enacted and under existing laws, we need robust enforcement to hold bad actors accountable for harm posed to residents. Today’s ruling sends a message that environmental injustice is a serious offense and that District government will act accordingly. While we celebrate this win, there is still much more work to do. I look forward to continued partnership with the Attorney General to advance environmental justice for District residents.”

Rodgers Brothers operated a trash transfer and recycling facility in Ward 5 for decades. The facility included an area that collected construction and demolition debris and an area that serviced machinery. The company’s president made decisions about daily operations at the facility, including environmental compliance.

In 2021, OAG sued Rodgers Brothers and its president, personally, alleging that they illegally discharged pollutants into District waters, including storm water basins that fed into the Anacostia River. In the lawsuit, OAG described multiple documented instances in which Rodgers Brothers illegally discharged petroleum and sediment into nearby storm water catch basins—polluting the water and clogging the basins with debris. Petroleum is toxic, and sediment that enters rivers and streams can clog waterways, smother habitat, and carry with it other pollutants that harm fish and aquatic species. The lawsuit described how Rodgers Brothers’ facility had a history of air and water pollution citations from the Department of Energy and Environment and had previously paid fines for previous violations but then continued to pollute DC waters.

Shortly after OAG filed suit, DC Superior Court entered a preliminary injunction against Rodgers Brothers, forcing the company to immediately implement new environmental safeguards at its Ward 5 site. In 2023, OAG secured partial summary judgment: the court ruled that the company, as a matter of law, had violated DC’s Water Pollution Control Act by polluting District waters on five occasions. In early 2024, the case went to trial to determine whether the president of Rodgers Brothers, George Rodgers Jr., would be held personally liable for the pollution violations, and how much the company (and potentially Rodgers Jr.) would pay in penalties for the illegal discharges.

On April 10, 2024, the Superior Court entered judgment in favor of the District, ordering Rodgers Brothers to pay $100,000 in penalties for five illegal discharges into DC waters. The court also found Rodgers Jr. personally responsible for two of the pollution discharges and ordered him to pay half of the total penalty amount, $50,000. The court also made its preliminary injunction permanent—should the Defendants resume operations at the site, they must implement rigorous pollution prevention practices.

A copy of the judgment is available here.  

A copy of the summary judgment order is available here.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Wesley Rosenfeld.

The Office of the Attorney General’s Efforts to Protect the Environment
OAG has a proven track record of protecting District residents from environmental harms and is dedicated to doing all it can to protect the Earth and the District in the short and long terms by holding polluters accountable, fighting climate change, and standing up for communities of color who are disproportionately impacted by environmental harms. OAG works closely with the Department of Energy and Environment to coordinate and implement Anacostia River cleanup efforts and investigate and assess damage to the District’s natural resources. Over the past 10 years, OAG has recovered nearly $120 million to promote environmental justice in the District—including recovering over $57 million from Pepco for contaminating the Anacostia River for decades.