Patuxent Riverkeeper, as a co-respondent with Prince George’ s County, MD has prevailed in an attempt by NRG to overturn the August closure order for the Brandywine/North Keyes Coal waste site issued by the County in August 2018. Patuxent Riverkeeper had been a party to the original zoning case in this matter as well. Legal representation for the case was provided by The University of Maryland Environmental Law Clinic. Patuxent Riverkeeper is a grassroots watchdog organization that works solely in the Patuxent watershed. The Patuxent River is the largest and deepest watershed that stays entirely within the State of Maryland.
The Brandywine Coal Waste site had been operating since the 1970’s on the basis of a “temporary” special exception that had been renewed multiple times since. Over the years, the facility racked up numerous environmental violations and at the time of the Summer 2018, the site had been operating for nearly a year under an expired zoning special exception. After getting a renewal (with conditions) issued by the County’s Zoning Hearing Examiner, The District Council in Prince George’s County intervened in the matter and held independent hearings to review the matter. Pivotal in the County’s decision to close the site was the history of operating without a permit, compelling evidence of health and other risks to surrounding residents and the river, Federal environmental infractions at the site and the late breaking disclosure by NRG that in the present day, the majority of the coal waste being disposed at the site actually was coming from an adjacent County instead of from Prince Georges’.
In recent years, citizens and activists in Brandywine have decried the over burdening of the community with a host of unwanted industrial uses, including the State permitting of as many as five separate electrical power generating plants in the neighborhood, plus a coal waste dump and a “Superfund” cleanup site. Patuxent Riverkeeper collaborated with residents two years ago to file a Civil Rights complaint with the US Environmental Protection Agency. The complaint argues that the region had become a sacrifice zone based race, class and other disparate factors. The Civil Rights complaint has been tentatively settled with an announcement due from EPA later this year. In the meantime, national media covered the ongoing controversy in Brandywine.
There remains a small possibility that NRG might seek an appeal of the latest court decision, but consensus among the respondents is that this would ill-advised on their part. For now the site is officially closed, and in preparations to undergo an overall environmental cleanup and the permanent mothballing of the site which was quite likely the largest coal waste disposal site in the State. You can read relevant documents in the case here: