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Karl A. Racine
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PEPCO to Pay $250,000 Penalty, Install $600,000 Trash Trap in Settlement for Water Pollution Violations

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ted Gest, Public Information Officer, Office of the Attorney General
[email protected]

Donna Henry, Public Information Officer, District Department of the Environment
[email protected]

WASHINGTON, D. C. – Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) will pay the District of Columbia a $250,000 civil penalty and spend up to $600,000 installing a trash trap in the Anacostia River to settle alleged violations of the District’s Water Pollution Control Act involving Potomac River pollution, D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan and District Department of the Environment Director Keith A. Anderson announced today.  

The settlement resolves claims by the District, set forth in a civil complaint filed simultaneously with a consent judgment today, that on Jan. 23, 2011, Pepco discharged mineral oil without a permit into the Potomac River from an electric transformer at its Potomac River Substation in Alexandria, Virginia. The mineral oil is used as an insulating fluid in transformers.

According to the complaint, a pipe break resulted in a leakage of 17,000 gallons of mineral oil, of which 4,500 gallons entered the Potomac, killing several birds and fish. The resulting oil sheen was reported from the Washington Sailing Marina to National Harbor, a distance of 3.5 miles.

The settlement agreement recognizes that such oil spills “may cause both immediate and long-term harm to human health and the environment.”  According to the complaint, there were eleven subsequent discharges of accumulated storm water from the site between Feb. 1 and June 23, 2011 from an “oil reclamation pit into the storm drain with a visible sheen.”

In addition to the $250,000 civil penalty, under the settlement as reflected in the consent judgment, Pepco will spend $600,000 to install and maintain a “cage-type trash interceptor” at a site at 14th and Gallatin Streets, N.E., on a tributary of the Anacostia River.  This will be the seventh trash trap installed in the Anacostia River watershed. Trash traps help prevent trash and debris from reaching the main stem of the river. Since 2009, trash traps have collected more than seven tons of trash and debris.

Pepco also agreed to pay $25,000 to the Northeast Environmental Enforcement Training Fund to help fund scholarships for environmental enforcement training.

The complaint and settlement papers were filed today in D.C. Superior Court. It is anticipated that the court will enter the mutually agreed consent judgment, which will be enforceable by the court.

DDOE Director Anderson said, “This settlement and the accompanying trash trap installation will greatly reduce trash entering the Anacostia River and will assist the agency’s ongoing efforts to cleanup and revitalize the Anacostia River. The settlement supports the Mayor’s Sustainable DC plan, as a clean Anacostia is a key component.”

Attorney General Nathan said, “This case demonstrates that the District is pursuing effective steps to stop the unpermitted discharge of pollutants into District waters. The additional trash trap moves us one step closer to meeting Mayor Gray’s goal of a fishable and swimmable Anacostia River by 2032.”