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WGL Unit to Pay $731,000 to Settle Anacostia Pollution Case

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Dec. 12 (Bloomberg) -- A unit of WGL Holdings Inc. agreed to pay almost $731,000 to settle pollution claims brought by the U.S. and the District of Columbia over the discharge of hazardous materials along the Anacostia River in Washington.

Washington Gas Light Co. will also “excavate and remove” portions of the riverbank containing contaminated soil stemming from the company’s gas plant, which operated for almost 100 years in the area, the U.S. Interior Department said today in an e-mailed statement. The U.S. announced the settlement shortly after it sued the company in federal court in Washington.

“This settlement is a major step forward in restoring this vibrant river, increasing public access, protecting habitat and wildlife, and educating and employing our youth,” Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in the statement.

The company made gas on the land from 1888 until the mid-1980s, according to the Interior Department statement. Byproducts and waste from the gasification process created hazardous contaminants, including benzene, arsenic, heavy metals, tar, oil, coal, lampblack and coke.

The plant was demolished in 1986 and above-ground storage tanks removed in 1997.

“For decades Washington Gas has voluntarily conducted mitigation actions on the site,” Eric Grant, vice president of corporate relations for Washington Gas, said in an e-mailed statement. “We are glad that the government has entered an agreement for Washington Gas to move forward with the work it has always been prepared to do.”

The case is U.S. v. Washington Gas Light Co., 11-02199, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Washington).

To contact the reporter on this story: Tom Schoenberg in Washington at tschoenberg@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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