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

The Perfect Family Book List

For the holidays, critic Alan Cheuse is making up a list of books to give to each of his family members. Only the best of 2014 for them. Here's his picks.
NPR

Guyanese Christmas Gives A Whole New Meaning To Slow Food

Two classic Christmas dishes beloved by the people of Guyana are pepperpot and garlic pork. To get the flavors just right, you have to cook them and let them sit out for weeks.
NPR

With New Congress, Will Obama Work Differently?

The GOP-led Congress President Obama will have to deal with for the last two years of his presidency is a stark contrast to the Democratic-led one he came in with. Does that mean Obama will change his approach to dealing with Capitol Hill?
NPR

2014 Hashtags: #BringBackOurGirls Made Nigerian Schoolgirls All Of 'Ours'

As part of a series on hashtag activism in 2014, Audie Cornish speaks with Obiageli Ezekwesili of the Open Society Foundation. Ezekwesili was one of the early promoters of the hashtag #bringbackourgirls, about schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria in April.

Leave a Comment

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