Alexandria allowing contaminates into waterways used by millions, environmentalist group says

The Potomac River Keeper Network is taking the City of Alexandria to court after being fed up with the contaminates they're allowing into the waterways that are used by more than 5 million people daily.

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The group says Alexandria is breaking the law and that this has been an ongoing issue for decades.

The source of the problem can be traced back to the mid-19th century. During that time, the Alexandria-manufactured gas plant was located in Old Town near where Oronoco Street ends at the waterfront.

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It produced lots of air pollution, but it also left behind a legacy of soil and groundwater contaminated with coal tar that hasn't been fixed for more than 75 years after the plant shut down.

Those toxins now get into the river via a stormwater pipe that discharges at the northern end of Founders Park.

"This is a public health issue when people are fishing here, the fish are getting contaminated, bioaccumulation of these contaminates are going into fish that people are eating," says Dean Naujoks of the Potomac Riverkeepers. "People are recreating here and the bottom line is – it’s illegal. They don’t have a permit to do this."

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The City of Alexandria says they can't comment on pending litigation, but they're surprised by this action.