From Rep. Gerry Connolly’s office; great work by both Connolly and State Sen. Scott Surovell!
WASHINGTON, DC – On Friday May 13th, Potomac Riverkeeper Network awarded its prestigious Protector of the Potomac Award to two elected officials who have led efforts to protect and restore the Potomac River at their annual 2016 Gala in Alexandria, VA.
“United States Congressman Gerry Connolly and Virginia State Senator Scott Surovell will share our 2016 award for the exceptional role they have played in safeguarding their constituents and our waterways from the devastating impacts of coal ash waste” said Jeff Kelble, President, Potomac Riverkeeper Network.
U.S. Congressman Gerry Connolly stepped up years ago as a champion of improving the federal rules which govern the closure of these storage pits. “Even before Possum Point began its closure plans Congressman Connolly stood out among his peers in demanding greater safeguards for the public. He continues to be a leader in addressing the toxic legacy of coal ash today, and it is our honor to present to him our Protector of the Potomac Award,” said Dean Naujoks, the Potomac Riverkeeper.
“Thank you to the Potomac Riverkeeper Network for this recognition and bringing attention to the serious danger that coal ash poses to our communities, our waterways, and public health,” said Rep. Connolly. “What we are witnessing at Possum Point, and coal ash impoundments across the country, is one of the most significant environmental threats to Northern Virginia and demands all our attention.”
Virginia Senator Scott Surovell, representing the Commonwealth’s 36th District, has also been a force in the fight against coal ash. From defending the right of his constituents living near Possum Point to a clean river and safe drinking water, to holding the state accountable for a full cleanup of Possum Point’s coal ash, Senator Surovell has worked tirelessly to protect the environment. “Senator Surovell has been an incredibly valuable partner to the Potomac Riverkeeper Network and Riverkeeper Dean Naujoks in particular. We’re grateful to have him as an ally” said Mr. Naujoks.
Locally, Possum Point coal ash ponds are generating controversy as decades of groundwater monitoring and Potomac Riverkeeper’s investigation revealed that these ponds have contaminated nearby groundwater and Quantico Creek, and may have polluted nearby drinking water supplies with high levels of harmful metals. Coal ash is the toxic waste byproduct that remains after burning coal to produce electricity. It contains harmful levels of arsenic, lead, mercury and other carcinogens. For over a century, coal fired power plants have simply dumped the coal ash waste they generate into unlined waste pits, often located next to rivers. Over the last decade, this practice has precipitated an environmental crisis, as toxic metals from leaking coal ash pits have contaminated many communities’ drinking water sources and fouled rivers.
About Potomac & Shenandoah Riverkeeper: Headquartered in Washington, DC, Potomac Riverkeeper Network and its three Riverkeepers; Potomac, Shenandoah, and Upper Potomac, work to protect the public’s right to clean water in our rivers and streams. We stop pollution to promote safe drinking water, protect healthy river habitats, and enhance public use and enjoyment. Over the last decade, our call for clean drinking water has reached millions of residents living in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. For more information www.prknetwork.org.