GenOn Holdings must pay $2.5 million for polluting Potomac RiverChristian Fernsby ▼ | June 1, 2020
Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced that GenOn Holdings, Inc., a major U.S. fossil-fuel power producer, is required to pay $2.5 million to the District to resolve allegations that one of its powerplants illegally discharged oil and other pollutants directly into the Potomac River.
Potomac GenOn Holdings
Topics: GenOn Holdings
he company also repeatedly ignored the District’s Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) orders to cease polluting. GenOn will be required to pay $2.4 million in civil penalties to the District, as well as $50,000 to improve drinking water quality and $50,000 to support environmental enforcement training for District government employees.
“The District has strong environmental laws to protect our waterways, precious natural resources, and the health and wellbeing of our residents,” said AG Racine. “Polluters are on notice: the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Energy and Environment will investigate and hold law breakers accountable for endangering the District’s air, land, and water.”
GenOn Holdings, Inc. is an energy company headquartered in Texas that owns and operates fossil-fuel powerplants across the country. GenOn, formerly known as NRG Potomac River LLC, owns the coal-fired Potomac River Generating Station located in Alexandria, Virginia next to the Potomac River. It was permanently closed in 2012.
The District of Columbia is responsible for overseeing water quality in the Potomac River. From approximately January 28, 2010 through September 2, 2012, DOEE documented unauthorized discharges of oil and other pollutants from the Potomac River Generating Station into the Potomac River.
DOEE instructed the plant’s owners to stop the unauthorized discharges, but the company failed to comply, and in 2018, DOEE referred the matter to OAG. Following an investigation, OAG alleged that that NRG Potomac River LLC, GenOn’s predecessor, discharged oil and other pollutants from former stormwater drainage pipes directly into the Potomac River on at least 93 separate days between 2010 and 2013.
OAG also alleged that the company failed to report about 70 of these documented discharges to DOEE as required; failed to comply with DOEE orders to plug or seal the pipes discharging pollutants; and knowingly made false statements to DOEE, among other violations.
The settlement agreement with OAG requires GenOn to:
Pay $2.4 million in civil penalties to the District: GenOn is required to pay $2.4 million to the District to resolve allegations that the company unlawfully discharged pollutants into the Potomac River more than 90 times, failed to report a majority of those discharges, made false statements, and other alleged violations.
Pay $50,000 to improve the water quality of the Potomac River: GenOn is required to pay $50,000 to the Potomac River Basin Drinking Water Source Protection Partnership. This funding will be used to improve water quality and expand the Potomac River Spill contingency plans, such as an early warning system and spill modeling capabilities.
Pay $50,000 to support environmental enforcement training: GenOn is required to pay $50,000 to the Northeast Environmental Enforcement Project to assist in enforcement training for DOEE staff. ■