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Environmental Groups Accuse Fenty Administration Of Stifling Anacostia Rehab

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Three of the Anacostia River's "toxic hot spots" are getting federal funding to lead clean-up efforts.
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Three of the Anacostia River's "toxic hot spots" are getting federal funding to lead clean-up efforts.

By Patrick Madden

Some environmental groups are accusing the Fenty Administration of holding back the clean-up effort on the Anacostia river.

The environmentalists call them 'toxic hot spots:' six sites along the Anacostia river that are so contaminated, so full of toxins and pollutants that in one spot, for example, two-thirds of the catfish have cancerous lesions.

Three of these sites have been designated 'Superfund' sites, that means federal government has been tapped to lead the clean-up effort.

But the other three haven't, and Brent Bolin with the Anacostia Watershed Society, says the mayor's office has not designated the spots because of pressure from developers.

"Several of the sites are really ripe for redevelopment and so there is a question of whether these sites will be stigmatized by a Superfund listing," says Bolin.

And the Superfund label, Bolin says, would send the value of the project plummeting.

But Christof Tulou, acting director of the District's Department of the Environment, says its sometimes easier and quicker to handle the clean-up effort directly.

"We feel that in direct negotiations with the responsible parties, the district government can get to the nitty gritty and get these things done quicker," says Tulou.

Tulou says a Superfund listing can be a long, drawn out process with a lot of red tape.

But Tulou doesn't entirely disagree with the environmentalists. He says the 'Superfund' label stifles redevelopment, and it's something his department takes into consideration when deciding which toxic spots make the list.

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