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Gunpowder Riverkeeper reaches proposed settlement with EPA on PCBs in the Gunpowder River, Bush River

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NOTTINGHAM, MD—In accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency Administrator’s March 18, 2022, memorandum regarding “Consent Decrees and Settlement Agreements to resolve Environmental Claims Against the Agency,” a proposed settlement has been reached that would resolve Gunpowder Riverkeeper v. Regan, et al., No. 1:20–cv–02063 (D.D.C.).

On July 29, 2020, Gunpowder Riverkeeper filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that EPA’s approval of Maryland’s submission of Total Maximum Daily Loads of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCB TMDLs) for the Gunpowder and Bird Rivers was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). The EPA is seeking public input on a proposed settlement agreement prior to its final decision-making with regard to potential settlement of the litigation.

Gunpowder Riverkeeper is also inviting the public to send in their comments directly to EPA at 88 Fed. Reg. 45900 by August 17, 2023 by clicking here.

“From our hard won perspectives as a small nonprofit protecting water quality in the Gunpowder, Bird, Middle River and Bush Rivers since 2011, Gunpowder RIVERKEEPEER® feels that the proposed settlement is a win-win for all parties.” said Theaux Le Gardeur, Riverkeeper and Executive Director of Gunpowder Riverkeeper, “We are pleased that the proposed settlement protects human health. No less than 26 species of Chesapeake Bay finfish spawn in and use the tidal basin of the Gunpowder and Bird Rivers as a nursery ground.”

The proposed settlement, crafted by Sara Colangelo, Director of the Environmental Law and Justice Clinic at Georgetown Law representing Gunpowder Riverkeeper and the communities it serves, and the Department of Justice, representing the EPA provides the swiftest form of relief to protect human health and the environment in our longstanding litigation.

“We are so pleased to have reached this settlement with EPA and DOJ. It will allow GRK to gain critical insight into sources of PCB contamination and advance the public’s understanding of and input into the government’s efforts to address that contamination. This is particularly important for the communities surrounding the Gunpowder and Bird, and those depending on the rivers’ resources in their everyday lives,” Colangelo said. The result being a commitment from EPA to; undertake enhanced monitoring to identify legacy sources of contamination namely from Aberdeen Proving Grounds and the C.P. Crane site; provide for enhanced public participation elevating community voices concerned about PCB contamination, and to; provide for additional public notices to protect subsistence fisher people and their families.

Comments on the proposed settlement, identified by Docket ID No. EPA–HQ–OGC–2023–0367 may be submitted online at https://www.regulations.gov. (EPA’s preferred method). All submissions received must include the Docket ID number for this action.

Photo by Sora Shimazaki from Pexels

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