ARK files legal complaint against PEPCO for heavy metals discharges

Anacostia Riverkeeper announced today a legal complaint filed against PEPCO for continuing violations of their NPDES permit, specifically as regards heavy metals.  We have been monitoring ongoing violations by PEPCO of their NPDES permits for several years now.  PEPCO has been under court order since 2011 to remediate past contamination.  As a result of our hard push last fall, EPA stepped in and began legal action against PEPCO.  We filed a motion to intervene with the EPA suit and were accepted by the court as an intervening party.

PEPCO’s extensive history of ongoing illegal discharges into the Anacostia River pose unacceptable risks of adverse health effects which threaten subsistence anglers, other recreational users, and wildlife, while severely delaying progress toward the clean up and restoration of this vital and historic watershed. District of Columbia and Maryland agencies have warned for years that local fishermen and their families should avoid regularly eating fish caught from the Anacostia River because of toxic pollutants that accumulate in the tissue of the fish. Despite the risks and warnings, an estimated 17,000 people knowingly eat fish taken from the Anacostia River each year

The toxic legacy of the Anacostia River directly and adversely impacts wildlife sustained by the river.  The celebrated bald eagles currently nesting in the National Arboretum, and another pair at the Police Academy, rely on fish caught from the Anacostia to feed their young.  The most recent DOEE Fish Advisory cautions us not to consume more than 2 pounds per month of any fish caught in the Anacostia River, including no more than 1.5 pounds of catfish per adult/per month.  The advisory is even stricter for human children under the age of 6: no more than 6 ounces per month of any fish from the Anacostia River.

The return of the bald eagles to the Anacostia watershed is a testament to the beginning of their repopulation across the United States since the ban of DDT and it is our hope that efforts currently underway to remediate the river are improved and moved up, not hampered by continued pollution that delay and threaten the restoration of this vital habitat for the benefit of wildlife and humans alike.