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Cleaning the Anacostia

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On September 12, at the Bladensburg Waterfront Park in Washington, DC, NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Howard University, the Anacostia Watershed Society, and others joined forces to clean up the Anacostia River and its watershed.

Roughly 285 volunteers and over 25 different partner organizations collected 2.5 tons of trash. This included 11 tires, four shopping carts, a boom box, a bicycle, a boogie board, wooden pallets, in addition to the standard bottles, cans, cups, and plastics.  Volunteers filled out data cards for the International Coastal Cleanup, whose official kickoff takes place on Saturday, September 19, 2009.

Jack Dunnigan

NOS Assistant Administrator Jack Dunnigan addresses volunteers at the Anacostia River cleanup event.

The rally following the cleanup included remarks from U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), U.S. Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maryland State Senator David Harrington, EPA Senior Advisor Chuck Fox, NOAA Deputy Administrator Jack Dunnigan, and Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari Wilson. NOAA staff from NOS Office of Response and Restoration’s Assessment and Restoration Division participated in the cleanup and distributed NOAA materials.

Flowing through Maryland and the District of Columbia, the Anacostia River is one of the Chesapeake Bay's most heavily altered watersheds. Toxic chemicals, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), petroleum compounds, and pesticides pollute the river. Only six percent of the area's original forests remain, and over 95 percent of the tidal wetlands have been lost. Historic fisheries are gone, remaining fish are unsafe to eat, and river water is unsafe for fishing and swimming.