We write to you as members of SW DC Action, a group of Southwest residents who organize and advocate for anti-racist development, as well as equitable and environmentally sustainable neighborhoods. We stand in solidarity with Buzzard Point Concerned Residents & Friends for Better Air Quality & Environmental Justice and their public comments regarding the renewal of Vulcan Material Plant’s permit.

For many years, SW communities have been living close to Buzzard Point facilities such as Vulcan Concrete and have experienced higher environmental exposures, including poorer air quality. For example, a 2016 Buzzard Point Community Health Status Assessment found higher rates of heart disease and cancer among residents who live near Buzzard Point compared to the rest of the District. Vulcan Concrete’s operations in Southwest have violated permitting requirements protected by the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Clean Water Act (CWA). These violations relate to emitting and discharging pollutants such as particulate matter, iron, and total suspended solids into the air and water, which has jeopardized the health of our community. 

Vulcan Concrete is currently seeking renewal of its permit to operate in SW DC, and their application is under review at the DC Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE). SW DC Action reaffirms that we are all protected under the CAA and CWA. Vulcan has already proven to disregard their polluting impacts on the SW community, as evident by their multiple permitting violations. Given this truth, we urge the DOEE to deny the renewal of Vulcan Concrete’s permit to operate.

DOEE officials have agreed to attend the next ANC 6D meeting on March 8 to answer questions about Vulcan Concrete’s air/operating permit. To help encourage DOEE to do the right thing, we encourage SW residents to report air or water quality problems, violations, or suspected issues by calling 311. 311 is open 24/7. If you have photos or video footage to submit, you can email air.quality@dc.gov. You may also file a report through their website at https://311.dc.gov/citizen/request/OUTODOR/location (if that is unsuccessful, use the “chat” feature). If possible, consider making your complaint by Sunday, March 7. Complaints received by then will help demonstrate the impact to our community and send a clear message that we want Vulcan Concrete to be held accountable for their polluting operation.

If DOEE chooses to renew the permit, we need to know:

  1. What will be done to address permit violations and improve program coordination, including all Vulcan project components and construction, to minimize impacts on the community?
  2. How will community notification, engagement, and input be enhanced with respect to Vulcan project development?
  3. How will prevention and control measures, as well as enforcement of policies and regulations to control dust and improve air quality, be implemented?
  4. How will consistent and periodic field monitoring of soil, water, and air quality be conducted?

As Southwest DC continues to be redeveloped, we need to do more to protect the health, environment, and community of existing residents. In line with DC’s 2019 Comprehensive Plan Framework, this means actively creating and supporting an equitable and inclusive city. This starts with denying the renewal of permits if polluters are not meeting basic regulatory requirements intended to protect human health and the environment of our community.

Sincerely,
Members of SW DC Action

www.swdcaction.com

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