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Bowser Administration Announces Plan of Action for Cleanup of Anacostia River

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Anacostia River Sediment Project Announces Interim Record of Decision 

(WASHINGTON, DC) Today, the Bowser Administration, through the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), announced an interim action plan that will greatly reduce the health risk posed by PCBs across parts of the Anacostia River. The release of the Interim Record of Decision (ROD) is an important milestone for the Anacostia River Sediment Project (ARSP). 

“I am pleased to say today that we are making progress towards restoring the Anacostia River as a natural resource that our city can enjoy now and for generations to come,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser.  

Beginning in 2013, DOEE identified contamination in an ARSP study area that includes the 9-mile tidal portion of the Anacostia, Kingman Lake, and Washington Channel. Remedial investigations determined that elevated concentrations of contaminants, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), dioxins, heavy metals, and pesticides from industrial, urban, and human activities are present in sediment throughout the Anacostia River, posing a potential risk to humans or aquatic wildlife. 

Working with a committed group of stakeholders, including the Mayor’s Leadership Council for a Cleaner Anacostia River, DOEE identified early clean up actions to remediate 11 “hot spots” based on analyzing almost 4,000 environmental samples and conducting companion studies. The hot spots target reductions in PCBs, but will reduce other contaminants as well. The resulting Interim ROD focuses on sediment cleanup as follows: 

  • Anacostia River and Kingman Lake: Approximately 50 acres will be remediated by removing (dredging) and covering (capping) contaminated sediment.
  • Washington Channel: Approximately 27 acres of contaminated sediment will be capped. 

In total, an area of approximately 77 acres will be cleaned up at an estimated cost of $35.5 million, reducing the human health risk from PCBs by approximately 90%. 

“With the early actions identified in the Interim ROD, District residents can look forward to a future where they can safely swim and fish in what was once a degraded urban waterway,” said DOEE Director Tommy Wells. He added, “The completion of the Interim Record of Decision marks a critical milestone in the District’s four pillar approach to restoring the Anacostia River.” 

The four key elements of this restoration effort include (1) remediating legacy contamination; (2) installing major infrastructure that will eliminate 98% of combined sewage overflows; (3) adopting smart policies to reduce plastic pollution; and (4) promoting green infrastructure through innovative trading programs, incentives, and stream restoration. 

A final river-wide Record of Decision will be issued after sampling and monitoring reveals how the river system has responded to the hot spot cleanups. The Interim ROD can be found in the ARSP document library along with historical information and frequently asked questions at


An Interim ROD is a key element in the process that identifies a selected cleanup strategy and outlines the process for its implementation, as required by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERLA) and the District of Columbia Brownfield Revitalization Act.