Benning Road Transfer Station was set to be replaced before fire

D.C. firefighters were back on the scene of a fire Saturday morning to control a hot spot at the Benning Road Trash Transfer Station.

“We returned to the scene a short time ago for a minor hotspot, but it is basically out,” D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Vito Maggiolo said.

Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh said it was already scheduled to be replaced.

It’s one of two trash transfer stations in the District, and it was already in the budget to start to be demolished and replaced in the next year or so.

Cheh — who has been vocal about past problems at that station — says that while no one ever wants a fire at a facility or for people to be in harm’s way, “maybe it’s a good thing because it will get us moving on a new facility quicker.”

In a Committee on Transportation and the Environment budget report from June 2020, Cheh wrote that, “the Benning Road facility is in serious disrepair and has long represented a missed opportunity for the District. The transfer station is on the site of a former incinerator and much of the site is unusable in its current condition.”

Earlier this month, D.C. Council member and former mayor Vincent Gray wrote a letter to Cheh and Christine Davis, interim director of the Department of Public Works, addressing his concerns for the facility’s safety.

“Capacity is no reason to compromise safety,” Gray wrote.

Cheh said decisions on when the work could start will happen after the facility is inspected.

“Depending upon the assessment that’s made about how the fire may have affected things there, maybe the demolition will be moved up,” Cheh said.

But trash will need to be put somewhere while the station is being replaced.

“We’ll be bringing our stuff over to Fort Totten while this building is being demolished,” Cheh said.

While that’s happening, she said third-party trash services will have to take their trash elsewhere until the new Benning Road facility is up and running.

She said the new facility will take 12 to 18 months to replace.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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