Cleanup Approved for VA Coal Plant

Tuesday, March 24, 2015 @ 10:03 AM gHale

Two 25,000-gallon tanks buried underground at the coal-fired power plant on Alexandria’s Potomac River have been leaking heating oil into the ground and into the river’s sediment.

An estimated 17,000 gallons had contaminated the soil, new owner NRG discovered in 2013.

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The company now has a proposal to clean up and contain the spill and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) approved the company’s plan to mitigate the issue over the next three years, and to monitor the soil and groundwater for two years after that.

“We don’t see this as any direct risk to human health,” said Alex Wardle, a remediation specialist in the state’s regional petroleum tank program.

Bill Skrabak, deputy director of Alexandria’s transportation and environmental services department, said the contaminated groundwater is not near any drinking-water wells and the company’s plans for containment should keep the pollution from affecting residents.

NRG is working with the city; the National Park Service, whose land adjoins the site; and the District’s Department of Environment, which is responsible for the Potomac riverbed, to make sure all issues end up addressed, company spokesman David Gaier said.

The company will have to make periodic reports to the state.

NRG said it will use a combination of techniques, involving injections of air and water into the soil and sediment, to extract the pollutants and allow them to break down through natural biological processes.

Paul Smedberg, an Alexandria city council member who is on a local monitoring committee set up years ago to oversee environmental concerns involving the now shutdown plant , said NRG has worked quickly to address the contamination it found after taking over the plant from previous owners.

Pepco owns the land at the plant site, but owners of the facility itself was several other firms, including Mirant and GenOn, before NRG merged with GenOn at the end of 2012.

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