Environmental groups prepare lawsuit against Sanitary Commission for release of pollutants into PotomacPosted by: Ryan Greene in News, Vox Populi, tags: Clean Water Act, Pollution, Potomac
The Environmental Integrity Project, Potomac Riverkeeper, and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation have filed a notice announcing their intention to sue the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC). The three environmental groups claim that the WSSC has been releasing solid waste into the Potomac River for years.
The groups’ claim concerns a water treatment plant near Seneca, Md., which is designed to take in water from the Potomac, purify it with chemicals, and then pump that water to homes and other buildings for use. Fortunately, nothing the plant was doing compromised the sanitation or toxicity of drinking water. But the environmental groups state that the plant releases excessive solid waste back into the Potomac.
Although the plant is legally permitted to release a small amount of chemicals back into the water periodically to prevent their buildup in the plant, the environmental groups specifically claimed that the plant has far exceeded this legal allowance.
Citing a letter dating to 2003 from the plant’s records, the groups say that a broken system releases aluminum and phosphorous back into the environment. According to the Post, the groups estimate that up to 30 million pounds of chemicals may have been discharged into the water just over the past four years.
Aluminum can be toxic to wildlife, especially fish, and phosphorous triggers detrimental algae blooms, which have decimated the bay area over the past several years.
The Post‘s article pointed out that, since the plant is owned and operated by a utilities company, any fixes and improvements will be paid for by the plant’s customers. Director of the Environemental Integrity Project Eric Schaeffer thinks they can get by though. “Baltimore is not the richest city in America,” he said, referring to a renovated water treatment facility up the coast, according to the Post. “They’ve gotten it together and managed to treat their water without the same side effects, and we think Montgomery County can rise to the occasion.”
Photo: Pam Broviak via Flickr