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District of Columbia v. Potomac Electric Power Co.

ELR Citation: 41 ELR 20360
Nos. 11–00282(BAH), (D.D.C., 12/01/2011) (Howell, J.)

A district court denied environmental groups' motion to intervene in a proposed consent decree resolving the District of Columbia's lawsuit against a power company alleging PCB contamination in the Anacostia River, but allowed the groups to participate as amici curiae. Under the consent decree, the company must conduct a remedial investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS) to delineate the conditions at one of its facilities and the adjacent areas of the river, determine the link between the facility and the PCBs in the river, and assess clean-up options. The environmental groups, who oppose entry of the decree, sought to intervene in the case. But denying intervention will not practically impair the groups' ability to protect their interests because they will be able to present their critiques of the consent decree to the court as amici curiae. In addition, permissive intervention is unwarranted in this case. As for the decree, the court found that the consent decree is reasonable, adequate, and appropriate. But because important details of the RI/FS process do remain to be elaborated by the parties, it is critical to ensure robust opportunities for public access, review, and comment upon the implementation of the consent decree. Accordingly, the court approved the consent decree on the condition that there is ample opportunity for public participation.