A Good First Step for Pepco Benning Road Community Engagement

On Saturday, September 15, 2012, Pepco and the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) hosted a Community Meeting at the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services building on Minnesota Avenue. This meeting was an important step forward for engaging the community in the Pepco Benning Road environmental site investigation and cleanup to learn more about these efforts and provide comments directly to DDOE and Pepco officials.

Attendees of the September 15, 2012 Pepco Benning Road cleanup community meeting
Attendees of the September 15, 2012 Pepco Benning Road cleanup community meeting

The bulk of the meeting was dedicated to an overview of the investigation and cleanup process (PDF). This slideshow is a good visual overview of how the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) will proceed.

Overview of RI/FS work plan for Pepco Benning Road cleanup
Overview of RI/FS work plan for Pepco Benning Road cleanup

Community members in attendance raised some important concerns to the Pepco and DDOE staff in attendance. Residents of River Terrace, the community sitting across Benning Road from the Pepco facility, offered comments reflecting their decades long fight against the plant.

  • Why isn't this site on the Superfund priority list?
  • Does Pepco have adequate resources to pursue this cleanup? Would EPA Superfund resources help?
  • How can this work proceed in isolation from other nearby sources of pollution, such as the trash transfer station?
  • Why doesn't the survey work include surrounding neighborhoods that surely have been impacted by Pepco pollution?

On this last point, DDOE's Paul Connor clarified that if the site investigation reveals that contamination has left the site and entered the neighborhood, the cleanup process requires that Pepco follow the pollution and pursue remediation.

There was also a strong sense from those in attendance that Pepco needs to be doing more to reach out the community, particularly by making available non-technical summaries of scientific documents issued as part of the cleanup process. It was also suggested that the existence of the Community Advisory Group (CAG) does not remove Pepco's duty to reach out to the community directly.

Overview of RI/FS Landside Investigation - Pepco Benning Road cleanup
Overview of RI/FS Landside Investigation - Pepco Benning Road cleanup

Overview of RI/FS Waterside Investigation - Anacostia River - Pepco Benning Road cleanup
Overview of RI/FS Waterside Investigation - Anacostia River - Pepco Benning Road cleanup

Make Your Voice Heard on this Cleanup!

The current comment periods for the Pepco Benning Road Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) work plans have been extended. All comments must now be submitted by September 28, 2012, to the District Department of the Environment (see details below).

These documents can be accessed on DDOE's website by clicking on the following links:
1. Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) Work Plan
2. Sampling and Analysis Plan
3. Health and Safety Plan

AWS has compiled summaries of the work plan documents currently up for public comment:
1. Summary of the Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study (RI/FS) Work Plan
2. Summary of the Health and Safety Plan

Please also visit DDOE’s Pepco Benning Road webpage for more information, including all work plans for this study.

Your comments can be submitted, no later than September 28, 2012, by mail to:

District Department of the Environment
Environmental Services Administration
1200 First Street NE, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20002
Attention: Apurva Patil

Or email to: apurva.patil@dc.gov

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