Lawsuit Against Alexandria, Virginia, Filed for Alleged Illegal Pollution

May 25, 2022

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network filed the lawsuit after conducting an investigation.

A lawsuit against the city of Alexandria, Virginia, alleges that the city’s storm water runoff system is allowing coal tar and creosote wastes to contaminate the Potomac River.

This is a violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation Recovery Act, as the waste is allegedly coming through a storm water pipe, reported WTOP News.

The Potomac Riverkeeper Network filed the lawsuit after conducting an investigation. According to the group, the waste originating from a gas plant that closed 75 years ago has been discharged into the Potomac since at least 1975, reported WTOP news. The Potomac Riverkeeper Network asked for a court order so that the city stops discharging coal tar and creosote wastes into the river, adding that the city should take remediation actions as well.

“The city’s effort to eliminate these discharges has been too slow, too limited, and has failed to stop the imminent and substantial danger,” said Dean Naujoks, a Potomac Riverkeeper who was part of the investigation, reported WTOP News.

“Documents prepared on behalf of the City acknowledge that concentrations detected near the Outfall site are a potential danger to marine and aquatic organisms and the animals that feed on them,” said Phillip Musegaas, vice president for Programs and Litigation, reported WTOP News.

A manufactured gas plant operated from 1851 to 1946, which emitted coal tar and creosote wastes into the soil and groundwater and after the plant was demolished, the city redeveloped the site in the mid-1970s. At this point the city had installed a storm water pipe, and contaminated runoff infiltrated into the storm sewer and was deposited into the Potomac via the outfall, reported WTOP News.

“While the city of Alexandria generally does not comment on pending litigation, we are surprised by the Potomac RiverKeeper Network’s (PKRN) action," said a statement from the city, reported WTOP News. "Alexandria has worked closely with both the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) and the PRKN on the City’s efforts to remediate the remnants of contamination that occurred at this site.”

According to this statement by the city, the city also entered into a voluntary remediation program overseen by the state in 2000 and is going by this schedule for its efforts.

Alexandria posted an updated list online of the current remediation plan and its progress.

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