Cleanup Projects on the Anacostia River

The Anacostia River may not (yet!) be the most pristine urban waterway in America, but it’s on its way. Several government agencies are creating plans to clean it up, and many milestone projects and decisions are on track to be completed soon. 

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.

[Click for larger image]. A tentative schedule of the planning timelines for several waterfront cleanup sites. Please note that the Anacostia Waterfront Trust does its best to track these dates but all timelines are estimates and subject to change. For the latest information, please contact the project manager for each site named below.


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: https://doee.dc.gov/anacostiasediment
Lead agency: District Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE)
Contact: Gretchen Mikeska, Anacostia Coordinator at DOEE
Next Milestone: Draft documents in November, 2017 with 60-day public comment period

The Anacostia River Sediment Project is a plan to determine the nature, extent, and location of contamination in the Anacostia River, evaluate any potential for human health and ecological risks, study the best method(s) to clean up the river, present a proposed cleanup approach for public comment and make a final decision on the best cleanup method(s). The sediment contains hazardous materials like pesticides and heavy metals due decades of urban and industrial activity nearby. The proposed plan to address pollution of the river sediment will be fully completed by July, 2018. There will be opportunities to comment on portions of the studies in the fall of 2017 and in April of 2018, and the next public meeting on the project is scheduled for the evening of October 4th (time and location TBD).

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: First leg of the Anacostia Tunnel online in March 2018

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, is scheduled to be placed in operation by March 23, 2018.

Kenilworth Landfill

Project page: Kenilworth Landfill
Lead agency: National Park Service
Contact: Tammy Stidham, National Park Service
Next Milestone: Spring 2018 with a 30-day comment period

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 in 2017 and releasing a proposed plan for the Kenilworth Landfill in 2018. 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 April 2018

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 in early 2018.

Washington Navy Yard

Project page: The Washington Navy Yard
Lead agency: Environmental Protection Agency
Contact: Larry Brown, Environmental Protection Agency
Next Milestone: Proposed Plan for cleanup will be released in 2018

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. A Proposed Plan is expected to be released in April of 2018.