WMATA Agrees to Pay Environmental Fine

WASHINGTON — The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to settle a six-year-old violation of the Clean Water Act.

The violation was caused by the accidental discharge of acidic water from a rail car hand-wash operation to the sanitary sewer system at its Branch Avenue Rail Yard rail car washing facility, the authority said.

The incident took place over several days in October 2003 and was halted when WMATA officials were notified of the discharge, the authority said. After the incident, WMATA officials reconfigured the operations of its rail car washing operation to comply with the Clean Water Act.

WMATA operates automatic rail car washing systems at five of its nine rail yards: West Falls Church, Alexandria, Greenbelt, Shady Grove and Glenmont rail yards. Rail car washing removes heavy dirt and rust from the aluminum exteriors of Metro’s fleet of 1,100 rail cars. The hand-washing facility at the Branch Avenue Rail Yard is the only hand-washing facility that Metro operates.

The investigation began at the New Carrollton Rail Yard, when a sewer pipe serving the facility collapsed; the sewer pipe served the area of the rail yard where hand-wash services were being performed. When WMATA officials realized there was a problem at the New Carrollton facility, the hand washing operations were shut down immediately and moved to the railcar wash facility at Branch Avenue, the authority said.

Car washing operations never resumed at New Carrollton.