Alexandria Power Plant Closes After Lengthy Fight | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Alexandria Power Plant Closes After Lengthy Fight

Play associated audio

Elected leaders are celebrating the end of an era in Alexandria as a decades-old, coal-fired power plant in the city officially closes.

With the infamous smokestacks rising in the distance, elected officials gathered Monday in a parking lot near the Potomac River Generating Station to declare victory. After more than a decade of effort, the coal-fired power plant officially shut down MOnday.

"The largest source of air pollution in the D.C. region will be no more because of citizens involvement," said Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.).

The fight to shut down the Potomac River Generating Station started with the citizens, who were concerned about a thick film collecting on their cars and window sills. One of those citizens is Poul Hertel, who, with other neighborhood residents, started asking questions years ago.

"It quickly became apparent that, yes, there was a lot of pollution coming into the neighborhood. And it was coming from somewhere, and the question was what?" Hertel says. The answer was the power plant, built in 1949. 

Hertel and his neighbors gathered scientific data that was used to help persuade city leaders to join the fight. Eventually, a settlement agreement was negotiated to improve air quality. But Houston-based GenOn ultimately concluded that it wasn t worth the money.

"I think anyone who looks at this has to think that GenOn at one point had to make a business decision," said Alexandria City Council member Paul Smedberg. "Particularly with the prospect of having to make significant improvements to the plant to get up to even minimal EPA standards."

Whoever purchases the site will gain 25-acres of waterfront property, but the new owner will also be responsible for cleaning up after decades of pollution.

"For the first time since 1946, the residents of the neighborhood can actually breathe a sigh of relief without fearing what comes down from the power plant," says Hertel.

What comes next is a mystery. Whoever purchases the property will have a time-consuming and expensive duty of cleaning up the heavily polluted site in exchange for 25 acres of waterfront property.

NPR

A Historic Backdrop Frames Forbidden Love In 'The Paying Guests'

Sarah Waters' latest novel, set in 1920s London, examines the moral consequences of passion. Though slightly too long, this book brings the past to life with exquisite clarity.
NPR

Before You Take A Bite Of That Mushroom, Consider This

Guess what scientists found lurking inside a common-looking packet of supermarket porcini? Three entirely new species of fungi. That's what happens when you DNA sequence your dinner.
NPR

Move To Curb U.S. Corporate Tax Dodges Could Delay Reform

Business and consumer groups say Congress needs to reform taxes, but few expect change soon. In fact, Treasury's tweaks to tax law may diminish the political will to address broader tax reform.
WAMU 88.5

Montgomery County's Drones Are Ready, But Policy Isn't

The county government has purchased four drones for use by its fire department and innovation office, but bureaucracy is keeping them grounded for now.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.