Cleanup Projects on the Anacostia River

The Anacostia River is on its way to becoming a clean and healthy urban waterway. Several government agencies are creating plans to clean it up, and many milestone projects and decisions are on track to be completed soon, especially in 2018. 

image courtesy the Department of Energy & Environment

The primary sources of pollution in the Anacostia are fecal bacteria, toxics, trash, and uncontrolled stormwater. While rainfall leads to an inundation of sediment, oils, chemicals and contaminants flowing from our city streets, yards and parking lots into the river, some of the pollution comes from contaminants in the soil and groundwater left from historic land uses.

Several sites have been identified as in need of remediation and various local and federal government agencies are leading projects to clean them up. The cleaning up of these areas is important because not only because remediation will heal the natural environment and improve human safety, but also because the planning processes for these areas will pave the way for the redesign and/or redevelopment of these sites.

In order to stay up to date and weigh in on the decisions that may impact these potential futures, you can take advantage of numerous opportunities to engage in the planning process for all of these projects. We will post information about meetings and public comment periods here and on our blog.

The Projects

Please note that the following descriptions are provided by the Anacostia Waterfront Trust, not the government agencies responsible for each project. While we try our best to provide accurate timelines for these projects, dates may change in the future.

The Anacostia River Sediment Project

Project page:
Lead agency: District Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)
Contact: Gretchen Mikeska, Anacostia Coordinator at DOEE
Next Milestone: Draft feasibility study with 60-day public comment period

The Anacostia River Sediment Project (ARSP) is a plan to determine the nature, extent, and location of contamination in the Anacostia River, evaluate the potential for human health and ecological risks, study the best method(s) for river clean up, present a proposed cleanup approach for public comment, and make a final decision on the best cleanup method(s) for the river sediments. The sediment contains hazardous materials and heavy metals due to decades of urban and industrial activity nearby. The Proposed Plan that specifies the selected clean-up option for the river bottom is scheduled to be completed in 2019. Throughout 2019, there will be public meetings to learn more about ARSP, as well as opportunities to comment on portions of the ARSP studies.  

Anacostia River Tunnel Project / Clean Rivers Project

Project page: The Clean Rivers Project
Lead agency: DC Water
Contact: Carlton Ray, Director of DC Clean Rivers Project, DC Water
Next Milestone: Northeast Tunnel completed in 2023

The Clean Rivers Project is DC Water’s ongoing program to reduce combined sewer overflow (CSO) into the Anacostia River and other waterways. The project is a massive infrastructure program designed to capture CSOs that exceed the capacity of the current system, and convey them to Blue Plains Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plant for treatment and discharge back into the Potomac River. The program is also designed to reduce flooding in the northeast part of the District of Columbia. The first leg of the Anacostia River Tunnel System, which runs from Blue Plains to the RFK Stadium, was placed in operation march 2018.

Kenilworth Landfill

Project page: Kenilworth Landfill
Lead agency: National Park Service
Contact: Tammy Stidham, National Park Service
Next Milestone: 2019 proposed plan

The area now known as Kenilworth Park was once a municipal landfill operated by the District of Columbia. The landfill was capped and designated as a park in the 1970s, but the soils and groundwater in the area may yet contain some hazardous materials. The National Park Service is leading the process to study the level of pollution in the park and identify ways to remediate it.

The NPS will be doing additional investigations and releasing a proposed plan for the Kenilworth Landfill in 2019. The northern half of Kenilworth Park is also slated to be transferred to the District of Columbia from the National Park Service upon completed remediation.

Poplar Point

Project page: Poplar Point
Lead agency: Deputy Mayor’s Office of Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) and DOEE with NPS oversight
Contact: Anna Shapiro, DMPED or Raymond Montero, DOEE
Next Milestone: Remedial Field Investigations, schedule TBD

The area known as Poplar Point was once used as a tree nursery and later a Naval Receiving Station, uses that potentially released hazardous materials into the soil. DOEE has taken the lead on behalf of the District to conduct a Remediation Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) for Poplar Point, with NPS oversight. The purpose of the RI/FS is to fully characterize potential contamination, assess risk, address applicable or relevant and appropriate requirements, and evaluate remedial action alternatives for the Site. The District is currently working on revising the project deliverables for NPS review and approval. Upon approval of project deliverables, remedial investigation field activities will commence. Poplar Point is also slated to be transferred to the District of Columbia from the National Park Service, although the transfer has not yet taken place.

Washington Gas

Project page: Washington Gas East Station
Lead agency: National Park Service
Contact: Tammy Stidham, National Park Service, National Capital Region
Next Milestone: Proposed Plan for cleanup released late 2020.

The Washington Gas East Station Property located south of M Street SE and east of 11th Street was contaminated by hazardous substances released by gas manufacturing operations. The National Park Service is leading efforts to clean up the property in consultation with the District of Columbia. A Proposed Plan for the Washington Gas site will be released in late 2020.

Pepco Benning Service Center

Project page: Pepco's Benning Service Center
Lead agency: District Department of Energy and Environment
Contact: Apurva Patil, DOEE
Next Milestone: Proposed Plan for cleanup will be released in 2019

Pepco’s 77-acre Benning Service Center on Benning Road facility was identified by District of Columbia and federal government agencies as one of six sites potentially contributing to contamination of the Lower Anacostia River. As part of its larger effort to clean up and protect the Anacostia River, the District Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) asked Pepco to assess whether and to what extent the Benning Road facility has contributed to problems in the river. Pepco agreed to perform the assessment, and is currently collecting additional sampling and plans to release its draft Feasibility Study report for public comment.

Washington Navy Yard

Project page: The Washington Navy Yard
Lead agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Contact: Larry Brown, Environmental Protection Agency
Next Milestone: Proposed Plan

The Washington Navy Yard is the oldest continuously operated federal facility in the United States. Industrial activities and the production of weapons at the Navy Yard led to pollution of the site. The Environmental Protection Agency is leading the process to study and propose actions for the site.