Pepco to pay $57 million for Anacostia River contamination, cleanup

Potomac Electric Power Company, or Pepco, agreed to a $57 million settlement with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General on Tuesday to resolve allegations of toxic chemical discharge at its Buzzard Point and Benning Road Northeast facilities.

The District contends the power company’s actions resulted in persistent toxic pollution of the Anacostia River.

Under terms of the settlement, Pepco will pay $47 million toward cleanup for the Anacostia River, and $10 million in penalties.

The settlement also requires Pepco to clean up contamination at its Buzzard Point and Benning Road facilities and investigate environmental impact.

“We’re going to continue to monitor Pepco to ensure that they don’t just pass those costs on to ratepayers,” said D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb.

Schwalb said the settlement paves the way for future settlement with Anacostia polluters.

“For decades, Pepco routinely discharged hazardous chemicals into the soil, groundwater and storm sewers, which fouled the Anacostia River, deprived us of the river’s many benefits and endangered public health and safety,” Schwalb said in a news release. “Pepco is not, however, solely responsible for the pollution, and it deserves credit for being the first responsible party to accept formal responsibility for its illegal practices.”

Schwalb said the Pepco settlement was the largest environment settlement agreement in D.C. history.

“The long-term impacts of releasing toxic, hazardous chemical pollutants into the Anacostia River has had disproportionate health impacts on lower-income, Black residents in DC,” Akosua Ali, president of the D.C. chapter of the NAACP, said in a news release. “This historic, $57 million settlement against PEPCO for the Anacostia River contamination and cleanup is a significant step towards addressing the generational health impacts of releasing hazardous, chemical pollutants.”

In a statement to WTOP, Pepco said that it is “committed to continuing our work with the District as well as other local agencies and community groups to improve the overall health of the Anacostia River.”

Pepco acknowledged that it was responsible for “unpermitted discharges of stormwater,” but said that the practice was “discontinued more than a decade ago.”

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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