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

Is It All Greek To You? Thank Medieval Monks, And The Bard, For The Phrase

Ben Zimmer, language columnist at The Wall Street Journal, explains the origin of the phrase "it's all Greek to me" — and shares a few variants from other languages.
NPR

Do Try This At Home: 3 Korean Banchan (Side Dishes) In One Pot

If you've ever eaten at a Korean restaurant, you're used to the endless side dishes that come out with the meal. They're called banchan, and they're remarkably simple to make for yourself.
WAMU 88.5

Cutting Local Taxes in The District

The D.C. Council has taken steps to accelerate tax cuts for all income earners. They're part of a broader overhaul of the city's tax levels, but some council members argued there wasn't enough time for a rigorous debate about the new schedule. We explore the debate over cutting taxes for D.C. residents and how it affects the city's ability to pay for critical local services.

NPR

Reddit CEO Says Miscommunication Led To Blackout Protest

A user revolt briefly shut down the social site last week after a key employee was dismissed. Interim CEO Ellen Pao says the company has "apologized for not communicating better" with site moderators.