Act Now to Comment on Plan to Cleanup Mercury in South River

After 66 years, a plan to clean up the legacy mercury pollution in the South River from the DuPont facility in Waynesboro, VA, is set to be approved. We need your help! We have a short period of time for public input into the plan.

This is the time for us to deal with long-term water quality improvement, not just implement short-term mitigation measures. Mercury is a neurotoxin and it is not to be trifled with. Fish consumption advisories have been in place on the South River and South Fork Shenandoah River since the mid-1970s.

Unfortunately, the draft $50 million South River Consent Decree and Restoration Plan was developed with little to no public input as to how those dollars are to be used and it is critical to let them know how we feel. There is a short period when you can submit comments.

Act now to email your comments to US Fish & Wildlife Service by January 30, 2017.

Important points that need to be made:

  • The Trustees should have allowed for a more open and transparent discussion of the various alternatives instead of presenting us with this false premise when there were many other options and tradeoffs that should have been considered.
  • Funds should be used to directly address the overall health of the river and the removal of the mercury so that the river can recover naturally and to emphasize water quality improvements so that fishermen can safely wade and fish the river.
  • Adding smallmouth bass to a river with an already robust population will not increase fishing trips. Rather, the demonstrated success of developing trout fisheries in the South River should be augmented with a trout grow-out facility in Waynesboro and fisheries management strategies that make sense biologically.

For more information, read our comment letter. Click here for a detailed list of questionsFor more info, copy of the plan is available online at: https://www.fws.gov/northeast/virginiafield/news/news.html

Click to Send Your Email Today!

Click to Send Your Email Today!

Demand a clean Potomac River in this century!

Every time it rains, streets, parking lots, and rooftops in the District of Columbia send millions of gallons of polluted runoff into the Potomac River, the Anacostia River and other local waterways. This pollution makes the Potomac unsafe to use and unhealthy for wildlife, and it puts our families’ health at risk.

The good news is that the EPA is finally requiring D.C. to curb this dirty runoff by capturing rain where it falls, preventing contaminated runoff from reaching the river. The bad news is that D.C. has told EPA that the city will need over 100 years to eliminate this pollution of our rivers! Some Potomac tributaries, like Rock Creek, would not get cleaned up until 2154! The EPA is working on a permit right now that will lock in D.C.’s commitments for the next five years, but the current draft of the permit fails to require faster progress. The EPA is content to allow the Potomac, Rock Creek and other tributaries of our Nation’s river to stay polluted for the next hundred years. 

We need your help! Send an email by January 17th to tell EPA that the permit must include stronger requirements to speed up the schedule – because we deserve clean waterways within our lifetimes.

Tell Alexandria to Stop Dumping Sewage in the Potomac!

I'm writing to urge you to send an email to the Mayor and City Council of the City of Alexandria to demand action on a serious public health problem.

WHY: Alexandria, Virginia is dumping 70 million gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater into the Potomac River each year. And City Council has decided not to do anything about it for 15 years. Alexandria has an antiquated sewer system that combines polluted stormwater with household sewage. During heavy rain events, the system is overwhelmed and discharges raw sewage as well as pet waste, fertilizers and trash from storm drains directly into the Potomac River near Old Town, violating federal Clean Water Act requirements and posing a serious risk to public health. Earlier this year, the swimming segment of the Nation’s Triathlon was cancelled due to high levels of E-Coli in the Potomac River.

Despite being one of the wealthiest cities in Virginia, Alexandria is failing to invest in upgrades to its sewer system to solve this problem. Instead, the city is actively working to obtain state permits that would allow it to continue dumping millions of gallons of sewage-contaminated stormwater into “Our Nation’s River” for decades to come. In contrast, Richmond and Lynchburg are implementing infrastructure fixes to address their sewage discharges. If Richmond and Lynchburg can do it, why can’t Alexandria? This degradation of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay must stop.

WHEN: Now! In August of 2016, Alexandria submitted an update to its EPA-mandated Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Alexandria’s draft plan seeks to “store and treat” roughly half of the 140 million gallons per year of sewage-contaminated stormwater the city discharges from four discharge pipes (outfalls) into the Potomac River and its tributaries.

Unfortunately, Alexandria is requesting permission to continue to discharge at least 70 million gallons of sewage-contaminated stormwater into the Potomac River for at least another 15 years. The city has ignored requests from city residents, state legislators, and numerous organizations to eliminate this illegal and harmful sewage dumping from its largest discharge point (Outfall 001) located at the Alexandria waterfront in Oronoco Bay, where anglers and boaters, including the TC Williams High School Crew Team, frequently use the river.

Yet, the Virginia DEQ currently has no plans to require a public hearing or allow the public to comment on Alexandria’s controversial final draft LTCP.        

TAKE ACTIONAlexandria is setting priorities for the fiscal year FY 2018 Budget. It is critical that city leaders hear from you to make this issue part of the budget discussion.

1) Tell Alexandria City Council to revise its Long Term Control Plan to comply with the federal Clean Water Act and protect public health by eliminating all untreated sewage and stormwater discharges from Outfall 001into the Potomac River!

2)  Tell Alexandria to allocate Capital Funds from its FY 2018 Budget and develop a stormwater utility fee to re-allocate financial resources to stop sewage contaminated stormwater from being dumped into the Potomac River.

HOW: Send a letter directly to the Mayor and City Council TODAY!

Thank you!

Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper

Write National Park Service to Stop Fracked Gas Pipeline!

I’m writing to urge you to send a letter to the National Park Service about a proposed fracked gas pipeline that will threaten the Potomac River and the National Park Service’s C&O Canal.

A West Virginia gas company called Mountaineer Gas is seeking permission to build a multi-million dollar pipeline from an existing line in the Martinsburg area west to Berkeley Springs and east to Jefferson County.

This pipeline is contingent on the approval and construction of the Columbia Gas pipeline, another new line that would run south from Bedford, PA to Hancock, MD, under the C&O Canal and Potomac River, finally ending in the Berkeley Springs, WV area.

Without any public notice, Columbia Gas is currently in talks with the National Park Service to obtain a right-of-way access to drill under federally owned Park Service property.  While no formal public notice is required, the Park Service has the authority to voluntarily seek public input for projects that affect public land under its jurisdiction.

The Mountaineer Gas pipeline would be build entirely in West Virginia, which means it is only subject to state oversight and needs no federal agency approval to proceed. In fact, despite outcry from local residents about the company’s bullying tactics and eminent domain threats, Mountaineer Gas has obtained conditional approval from the WV Public Service Commission to build their project.  

West Virginia communities have voiced their opposition to this unneeded and harmful project to bring cheap fracked gas from Pennsylvania into the state, and are joining Marylanders in the fight against the Columbia Gas pipeline.

The National Park Service (NPS) has granted Columbia Gas a right-of-entry to survey. There has been no public information about talks between Columbia Gas and NPS or the request for the right-of-entry authorization.

On October 23, over 50 people gathered in Hancock, MD to protest the Columbia Gas pipeline and the lack of public participation in the right-to-entry request to the National Park Service.

These interrelated gas pipeline projects pose a real risk to the Potomac River, the drinking water source for over 6 million people, and to several pristine West Virginia trout streams.

There have been more than 200 pipeline spills in the U.S. so far this year, and a 26.8% increase in pipeline spills since 2006. 

Just as troubling is the fact that these companies are going behind closed doors and using old school bullying tactics to gain access to public and private property in Maryland and West Virginia.

It is our right as citizens and members of the public to have a voice, and be involved when a gas company seeks a right-of-entry to national park property for their private financial gain at the cost of risking the public’s ability to use and enjoy one of the most visited national parks of the country.

I am asking you to join Upper Potomac Riverkeeper and send a letter to the National Park Service, to express your concern about a new, unnecessary pipeline that threatens the C&O Canal and the Potomac River, and to call on Park Service officials to open up this process to the public immediately.

Thank you!

Brent Walls, Upper Potomac Riverkeepe

p.s. Want to use snail mail? Here are the NPS addresses.

ALEXANDRIA STOP USING THE POTOMAC RIVER AS A SEWAGE DUMP!

SEND LETTER TODAY TO TELL ALEXANDRIA TO STOP USING THE POTOMAC RIVER AS A SEWAGE DUMP! 

WHY:  Alexandria, Virginia is dumping 70 million gallons of raw sewage and polluted stormwater into the Potomac River each year. Alexandria has an antiquated sewer system that combines polluted stormwater with household sewage. During heavy rain events, the system is overwhelmed and discharges raw sewage as well as pet waste, fertilizers and trash from storm drains directly into the Potomac River near Old Town, violating federal Clean Water Act requirements and posing a serious risk to public health. Earlier this year, the swimming segment of the Nation’s Triathlon was cancelled due to high levels of E-Coli in the Potomac River:

Despite being one of the wealthiest cities in Virginia, Alexandria is failing to invest in upgrades to its sewer system to solve this problem. Instead, the city is actively working to obtain state permits that would allow it to continue dumping millions of gallons of sewage-contaminated stormwater into “Our Nation’s River” for decades to come. In contrast, Richmond and Lynchburg are implementing infrastructure fixes to address their sewage discharges. If Richmond and Lynchburg can do it, why can’t Alexandria? This degradation of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay must stop.

WHEN: Take Action Now! In August of 2016, Alexandria submitted an update to its EPA-mandated Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) to the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).  Alexandria’s draft plan seeks to “store and treat” roughly half of the 140 million gallons per year of sewage-contaminated stormwater the city discharges from four discharge pipes (outfalls) into the Potomac River and its tributaries.

Unfortunately, Alexandria is requesting permission to continue to discharge at least 70 million gallons of sewage-contaminated stormwater into the Potomac River for at least another 20 years. The city has ignored requests from city residents, state legislators, and numerous organizations to eliminate this illegal and harmful sewage dumping from its largest discharge point (Outfall 001) located at the Alexandria waterfront in Oronoco Bay, where anglers and boaters, including the TC Williams High School Crew Team, frequently use the river.

Yet, the Virginia DEQ currently has no plans to require a public hearing or allow the public to comment on Alexandria’s controversial final draft LTCP.        

TAKE ACTION: Alexandria is seeking public comment until October 31 for setting priorities for the fiscal year FY 2018 Budget. It is critical that city leaders hear from you to make this issue part of the budget discussion.

1)    Tell Alexandria City Council to revise its Long Term Control Plan to comply with the federal Clean Water Act and protect public health by eliminating all untreated sewage and stormwater discharges from Outfall 001into the Potomac River!

2)    Tell Alexandria to allocate Capital Funds from its FY 2018 budget and develop a stormwater utility fee to re-allocate financial resources to stop sewage contaminated stormwater from being dumped into the Potomac River.

HOW: Send a letter directly to the mayor and city council members BY OCTOBER 31!

OR

Call City Alexandria Councilmembers (703-746-4500) and Alexandria Mayor Silberberg (703-746-4357).

OR 

Submit a comment directly to the city so there is a record of your concerns.

Virginia: Keep Toxic Coal Ash Wastewater Out of the Potomac

Dominion Proposes to Dump Over 150 Million Gallons of Contaminated Wastewater Into Quantico Creek and Potomac River

Dominion Virginia Power recently acknowledged it dumped 33 million gallons of untreated coal ash waste water in May 2015 from its Possum Point Power Station into Quantico Creek, which flows into the Potomac River. Dominion then met privately with Virginia DEQ and revised its number to 27.5 million gallons, which is still more contaminated coal ash water than was spilled into the Dan River by Duke Energy in 2014!

Possum Point includes 5 coal ash ponds, four of which are completely unlined and all of which have been leaking contaminants into groundwater and Quantico Creek for over thirty years. Pond D, the largest of the five, has the capacity to hold over a billion gallons of toxic ash waste and water and is only partially lined.  Coal ash, the waste produced from burning coal to generate electricity, contains a range of metals that are toxic at high levels, including lead, arsenic, chromium, selenium, vanadium, and other cancer-causing agents.
 
Coal ash is typically stored in unlined pits that become “ponds” when stormwater flows into them, causing the metals to continuously “seep” and leach out of the ponds, polluting nearby groundwater, drinking wells and public waterways. Levels of coal ash metals were found at levels far exceeding Virginia limits in groundwater around the Possum Point facility.
 
Just a few months after the secret discharge, a state board approved a permit that will allow Dominion to discharge over 150 million gallons of waste water from Dominion’s coal ash ponds into the Potomac River without using the best available technology to treat contaminated waste water.
 
In North Carolina, the EPA intervened. Duke Energy pled guilty and was found “criminally negligent discharge of pollutants” into North Carolina rivers with coal ash. Duke is required to haul its coal ash waste to lined landfills away from rivers. Virginia is giving Dominion a free pass to “dewater” its coal ash ponds directly into our rivers and then cap the ponds where they will continue to contaminate groundwater and surface water in perpetuity.
 
Potomac Riverkeeper Network has been on the forefront of this battle, investigating Possum Point and the May 2015 toxic discharge as well as challenging the grossly inadequate permits. We have asked the Director of Virginia DEQ David Paylor to explain why he misled the public when he said "no water was discharged into state waters" in June, when we know his staff visited the site in May and discovered the pond drained.  We have sent multiple requests to the EPA to investigate. Potomac Riverkeeper Network, Prince William County and the State of Maryland have all filed an appeal of the permit. The public wants answers! Click here to learn more.
 
Now, we need YOUR help to protect the Potomac River. It will take one minute of your time. Write to Attorney General Mark Herring and demand that he revoke Dominion's Possum Point coal ash permit and request an EPA investigation of the 27.5 million gallon toxic coal ash water discharge!
 
Thank you!
Dean Naujoks, Potomac Riverkeeper