On Monday, the Potomac Riverkeeper, Inc. filed a complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against the City of Alexandria, Virginia alleging violations of the Clean Water Act and the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act.
According to the complaint, the Potomac Riverkeeper is a nonprofit, membership-based environmental advocacy organization with the purpose of ensuring stronger enforcement of federal, state and local clean water protections in the Potomac River.
The complaint states that the City of Alexandria is a municipality in Virginia that contains the site of a former manufactured gas plant at the corner of Oronoco Street and North Lee Street that used to produce natural gas from coal. The complaint further states that in 1975, just before the site of the former gas plant was redeveloped, the City installed a storm water pipe beneath Oronoco Street adjacent to the former plant site.
The plaintiff states that the Oronoco Street storm water pipe flows east and discharges storm water into the Potomac River. The complaint alleges that coal tar and creosote wastes from the former plant site have continuously entered the Oronoco Street storm water pipe which is then discharged into the Potomac River.
The complaint purports that, at the request of the U.S. Coast Guard, the City installed absorption booms in 1979 and a floating contamination boom near the Oronoco Street storm water pipe’s outfall into the Potomac to mitigate the discharge of coal tar and creosote waste. However, the plaintiff alleges that the booms are poorly maintained and have failed to contain the contamination in compliance with the City’s Clean Water Act permits.
The plaintiff further argues that the illegal discharge of coal tar and creosote waste is causing substantial pollution and harm to the environment and the aquatic organisms in the Potomac River. Subsequently, the complaint states that the Riverkeeper served the City with a notice letter to stop the City’s illegal discharge of coal tar and creosote waste into the river in violation of its Clean Water Act permits.
Despite the notice letter, the Riverkeeper alleges that the City continues to discharge coal tar and creosote waste into the Potomac River and therefore brings the present suit alleging violations of the Clean Water Act and the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act. The plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, the imposition of civil penalties, attorney’s fees and costs. The plaintiff is represented by Sidley Austin LLP.