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Launch of New Coalition - United for a Healthy Anacostia River

Will Educate Key Audiences About Toxics in Anacostia River

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Seven leading environmental and business groups in the District announced today the formation of United for a Healthy Anacostia River, a new coalition that will work to educate key audiences about the toxics in the bottom sediments of the Anacostia River.

The Anacostia River consistently ranks as one of the most polluted and toxic rivers in the nation. Toxins found in the river have long been associated with increased risks of developmental disruption, neurobehavioral deficits and cancer. 

"The area around the Anacostia River in DC and Maryland is on its way to becoming a huge cultural, social, and economic resource for the region," said Doug Siglin, who serves as chair of the coalition and has more than three decades of experience with clean water issues regionally, nationally, and internationally. "But it cannot reach its potential as long as dangerous chemicals in the riverbed and at certain places along the bank remain unaddressed.  The members of United for a Healthy Anacostia River are joining together to be vocal champions for a comprehensive clean up effort.  The longer we wait, the longer we postpone the benefits of the Anacostia River and ignore a potential threat to the health of our community." 

United for a Healthy Anacostia River is reviewing the Anacostia River Sediment Project Remedial Investigation Work Plan released by the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) on January 30. The workplan lays out a framework to guide future clean-up of toxins from the bottom sediments of the Anacostia River.  "The coalition applauds DDOE for moving ahead with its investigation plan," said Siglin.  "This is a critical step in the process of cleaning up the river and provides a much-needed starting point for a city-wide conversation about the enormous benefits of cleaning up the Anacostia.  It is also an essential step in meeting the coalition's goal of initiating comprehensive clean-up efforts by January 2017--midway through the next mayor's term."

Over the past twenty years, nonprofit organizations and local and national units of government have been working to clean up and restore the Anacostia River's chemical and biological health. While much has been accomplished, the job won't be complete until the toxics are dealt with.

"Washington, DC is experiencing tremendous residential, business, and economic growth.  Housing development is at an all time high and DC is leading the nation in many innovative categories," said Dennis Chestnut, Executive Director of Groundwork Anacostia DC and a member of the coalition's Steering Committee. "These accomplishments are very commendable.  But, if there is not the will to restore the health of our most valuable natural resource, we will have squandered a major economic opportunity and failed the existing and future residents of our wonderful city."

A central component of the coalition's work will be a robust digital and social media campaign to educate key audiences about the state of the river and encourage them to be advocates for cleaning it up.  A centerpiece of that effort is an online petition addressed to Mayor Gray and members of the DC Council, asking them to, "make a commitment to fully cleaning up the toxic chemicals found in and around the Anacostia … [and] pledge to have the toxic cleanup underway by January 2017 – three years from now." The petition is located here: https://www.change.org/petitions/the-mayor-of-dc-and-dc-councilmembers-please-make-cleaning-up-the-toxins-in-the-anacostia-river-a-top-priority.

The coalition's digital and social media platforms include:

Members of the Coalition Steering Committee include:

United for a Healthy Anacostia River is a newly formed coalition comprised of leading environmental, business and community groups within the District of Columbia. The coalition advocates for the cleanup of all of the PCBs, PAHs and other toxic chemicals in the tidal Anacostia River, especially legacy toxics in the riverbed sediments. Through educational efforts directed at the public, the media, elected officials, and political candidates, the coalition seeks to ensure that the actual cleanup of the river bottom begins by January 2017, midway through the next DC mayor's term.  www.healthyanacostiariver.org

Contact: Kelsey Kerle-O'Brien (706-570-1860)
Robert Schwartz (202-207-3665)
healthyanacostiariver@gmail.com

SOURCE United for a Healthy Anacostia River

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