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ENR DOJ (202) 616-0189 EPA (202) 260-1384 TDD (202) 514-1888

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AGREES TO MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECT IN SETTLEMENT OF CLEAN WATER DISPUTE WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The District of Columbia will take steps to assure proper operation of its Blue Plains sewage treatment plant and implement an experimental technology to reduce nitrogen discharges from that plant to the Chesapeake Bay under a consent decree filed in federal court today. The settlement, announced by the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, settles two civil actions alleging violations of the Clean Water Act. The agreement makes the District the first local jurisdiction to take a significant step toward meeting an EPA goal set for the year 2000, to reduce the amount of nitrogen discharged into the Chesapeake Bay by 40 percent, the Department said. The pledge was made by the Environmental Protection Agency, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania and the District. The Department, in filing the action on behalf of EPA in U.S. District Court in Washington, said the District will test, then implement a new technology to reduce the discharge of the pollutants. Assistant Attorney General Lois J. Schiffer, head of the Environmental and Natural Resources Division, said, "This agreement represents a major step forward in protecting the Chesapeake Bay and the residents of the Washington metropolitan area. The District worked hard with EPA and this Department to agree to implement new technology for nitrogen reduction and to assure improved operation of the whole plant." Peter H. Kostmayer, EPA Region III Administrator, said, "The District's biological nitrogen reduction (BNR) project at Blue Plains is the largest effort of its kind ever undertaken. The success of the BNR project will not only improve the environmental quality of the bay, it will add another technical tool to our remedial toolbox that may benefit facilities across the country and abroad." If successful at Blue Plains, the new technology could also be implemented at other large sewage treatment plants, he said. Today's decree resolves two civil actions the United States filed alleging that the District had violated the Clean Water Act by exceeding the limits on discharges of pollution set in the plant's operating permit and by failing to operate and maintain the plant properly, and requires the District to pay a $500,000 civil penalty. While the cases were pending, the District had improved the operation of the Blue Plains plant and reduced the number of permit violations, the Department said. The decree also requires the District to review its practices and procedures for purchasing maintenance supplies and replacement parts and establish a set of strict "operational capability" requirements that specify how many pieces of critical equipment are to be maintained in operable condition at all times and how those pieces of equipment are to be operated. Notice of the decree will be published in the Federal Register. Interested parties have 30 days in which to comment. ##### 95-040