WASHINGTON – One of the regions biggest polluters will close for good on Monday after a decade long fight over air pollution.
The GenOn Power Plant in Alexandria, which was fueled by coal, has gone by several names over the years.
“This was the worst single source of air pollution in the entire Washington Area” says Congressman Jim Moran, D-Va., who has been trying to shut down the plant since he served on the Alexandria City Council in the 1980s.
The city used state regulators to get some pollution control over the last few years.
The power plant, which is located on the Potomac River, has operated since 1949 burning coal to produce power, which is sold to Pepco. It employs 120 people.
Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille says at one point the pollution was so bad that people who lived in the adjoining neighborhood had to clear coal ash off their cars from time to time.
“We never thought in our lifetime that we’d see the plant shut down” Euille says.
GenOn originally wanted to gradually phase out operations at the plant over 20 years, but before that plan was put into effect, the company agreed to shut down the facility Oct. 1.
Houston-based GenOn Energy will get back about $32 million the city had held in escrow to be used for additional environmental controls under an agreement signed in 2008. The facility had been operating on a limited capacity since then.
The land, which is owned by Pepco, and leased by GenOn, could take years to clean up.
Euille says the city hopes to redevelop the site into both commercial and retail space like the rest of Alexandria’s waterfront.