Potomac Now Clean, Anacostia Getting Cleaner...Hopefully

by HUNTER GORINSON · September 15, 2010

Last week, we told you that the Potomac River has officially been declared "clean."  Well, the D.C. government has followed up that pronouncement with word that the Potomac's dirtier and much more toxic cousin, the Anacostia, will too be clean...maybe, sometime in the distant future.

The District Department of the Environment announced on Thursday that the railroad company CSX Transportation will be coughing up at least $8 million to "clean up pollutants on or emanating from its Benning Road rail yard.” In conjunction with the news, D.C. Attorney General Peter Nickles said:

"This settlement is intended to send a strong message – that the District will aggressively, but thoughtfully, pursue entities that harm the environment and threaten public health.  This case demonstrates that we mean business, and will vigorously enforce our environmental laws."

Good luck, chief.  A cursory look over the EPA's environmental assessment of the Anacostia notes at least six other sites along the D.C. portion of the river that have spewed materials like raw sewage, landfill waste, PCBs and heavy metals like lead and mercury into the river over the past century -- most of which went unchecked. (CSX itself accidentally spilled 600 tons of coal into the river back in 2007.) Add that to the 20,000 tons of refuse --including the occasional, you know, dead body -- that get dumped into the Anacostia yearly and the Potomac looks like the goddamn Evian spring by comparison.

Oh, and we almost forgot to mention that the fish probably cause cancer.  That view from The Park at The Yards doesn't seem so pristine now does it?

[photo via]