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Environmentalists Say Beltway Project Threatens Northern Virginia Creek

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The plastic fence around this pile of dirt in Fairfax County, Virginia has failed and can no longer stop the dirt from draining into a nearby nature area during heavy rains.
David Schultz
The plastic fence around this pile of dirt in Fairfax County, Virginia has failed and can no longer stop the dirt from draining into a nearby nature area during heavy rains.

The Accotink flows in Fairfax County, just a few hundred yards from the future site of toll lanes on the Capital Beltway.

Kris Unger with the Sierra Club says much of the dredged-up dirt from the Beltway construction project is draining into the creek. He points out a makeshift plastic fence, and the steady trickle of muddy water that's leaking through it.

"As you can see, it's already taking its own path through," he says. "The fence isn't serving any purpose. And you can see silty water going down into Accotink."

The cause of these increased silt deposits in the creek is clear, Unger says: thousands of trees were mowed down to make way for the Beltway project.

"When you open up an area, when you remove the trees and the vegetation that's been holding the dirt in place," Unger says, "That's when you start having these dramatic effects."

Unger is scheduled to meet with Virginia transportation officials on Thursday to discuss the issue.

David Schultz reports...

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