News Feature | January 25, 2017

Power Company To Pay Millions in Water Pollution Settlements

Dominique 'Peak' Johnson

By Peak Johnson

Under a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. EPA, the Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) will pay $1.6 million and install a water treatment system for Clean Water Act violations at its service center in Anacostia, Washington, D.C.

Environmental Leader reported that under the settlement, Pepco will also “implement a number of measures to reduce metals in stormwater entering into its drainage system.”

Pepco will also install an in-pipe treatment system “to further treat the stormwater, which discharges into the Anacostia River and agreed to perform a mitigation project to eliminate stormwater discharges from another outfall at the facility, and will pay an additional stipulated penalty of $500,000 if it fails to put the project into operation.”

According to the federal government, the company violated its Clean Water Act permit limits for metals, “including copper, zinc, iron, and nickel, and total suspended solids, in its stormwater discharges.”

The U.S. Justice Department Office of Public Affairs said that the U.S. filed its complaint in October, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“This agreement will aid the continuing recovery of the Anacostia River by cleaning up contaminated stormwater from this Pepco facility,” Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden, said according to the department’s office. “This is part of the ongoing and substantial efforts by EPA and the Department of Justice to address sources of water pollution and bring great American rivers like the Anacostia back to health. I have personally kayaked the River and know its importance in our Washington, D.C. ecosystem.”

According to the Bay Journal, the Justice Department and the EPA were able to receive those commitments and more “in a consent decree negotiated with the Washington-area utility, which was filed late last week with the federal district court for the District.”

Anacostia Riverkeeper’s Emily Franc, whose group had originally threatened to sue Pepco over the toxic discharges before the federal government stepped in, was pleased with the overall decision. Later on, the court even permitted her group “to intervene in the lawsuit and participate in the settlement talks.”

Pepco did not acknowledge any wrongdoing in the agreement, though its company spokesman called the consent decree “a positive development for the company and its customers.”

“They are making progress,” Franc said.

Under the consent decree, “Pepco promises to take additional steps to reduce the amount of metals being washed into the site’s drainage system, and to install a system to treat the runoff in the pipes before it gets discharged into the river. The company also commits to closing another outfall, eliminating any discharge from it.”

The company pledged to start work on the treatment system for the main outfall by June 15, and to have it running by the end of the year.

To read more about Clean Water Act violations visit Water Online’s Source Water Contamination Solutions Center.