Bay Journal

Topics: Pollution

District unveils first steps to clean up Anacostia’s toxic sediment

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The District of Columbia has released the first steps of a plan to clean up a legacy of toxic contaminants on the bottom of the Anacostia River.

The “early action” plan calls for capping, dredging and monitoring contaminated sediment at nearly a dozen “hot spots” along a highly urban and historically industrial nine-mile stretch of the river, which flows from suburban Maryland through the nation’s capital.

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About Pollution

Nutrient pollution, the nitrogen and phosphorus that originates from farms, wastewater treatment plants, stormwater runoff and air pollution, is a major source of pollution to the Chesapeake. In the Bay, they spur growth of algae blooms which block sunlight needed by important underwater grass beds. When the algae dies, they are decomposed in a process that depletes the water of oxygen needed by other species.

Sediment eroded from the land and streambanks degrades stream health and reduces water clarity. Toxins and other chemical contaminants also pose a direct threat to fish throughout the Bay and its watershed.

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