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ATSDR Press Room

ATSDR Releases Report on Mirant Potomac River Generating Station

Alexandria City County, Alexandria, Virginia

Monday, July 12, 2010

A federal report on air quality near Mirant Potomac River Generating Station found that levels of some contaminants near the site and in the region were of concern during 2007 and 2008.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s public health assessment of air quality found that

  • Breathing air contaminated with sulfur dioxide near the site was not expected to harm the health of the general population.
  • Sulfur dioxide levels could have been infrequently high enough to temporarily harm some sensitive groups, such as people with asthma.
  • Levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) were elevated similar to levels throughout northern Virginia; PM2.5 is a regional concern and not specific to the area, but people in the Alexandria area could experience harmful health effects.
  • Arsenic and chromium were found at levels that could cause slight health risks. Levels observed were consistent with those routinely observed in suburban and urban locations nationwide.

Since 2004, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ), the City of Alexandria, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have been working to reduce emissions at the plant, due to estimates that showed levels of sulfur dioxide and particulate matter might be elevated.

In January 2009 the generating station completed a stack merge project that was designed to increase the dispersal of air pollutants from the facility. ATSDR has not evaluated air data since the merge. Therefore, the findings and conclusions of ATSDR’s report may not apply to current exposure conditions. ATSDR will consider a review of future information that may become available.

ATSDR recommends that the VDEQ continue its efforts to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions at the plant.

VDEQ and the City of Alexandria should also continue efforts to reduce fine particulate matter emissions in the city and in the state of Virginia. Reducing fine particulate matter should also reduce exposure to arsenic and chromium.

ATSDR will conduct an open house for the public in Alexandria on Thursday, July 29, from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street, to talk to community members about the findings.

ATSDR is accepting public comments on the report from July 12, 2010 until August 12, 2010.

The public health assessment is available at

Comments on the public health assessment must be made in writing. Comments received during the public comment period will appear in the final public health assessment. Comments (without the names of individuals who submitted them) and ATSDR's responses to these comments will appear in an appendix to the final public health assessment. Names of those who submit comments, however, will be subject to release in answer to requests made under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Send comments to:, or mail to:

Attention: Rolanda Morrison
re: Mirant Potomac River Generating Station site
ATSDR Records Center
4770 Buford Highway, NE (MS F-09)
Atlanta, GA 30341

For more information about the public health assessment, community members can contact Lora Werner, Senior Regional Representative, 215-814-3141 or

Media inquiries: 770-488-0700 or

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Related PHA & HC For this Press Release

Mirant Potomac River Generating Station
-Health Consultation
Document Date: 3/21/2011 - HC  [PDF - 11234 KB]

Mirant Potomac River Generating Station
-Fact Sheet on Final Health Consultation
Document Date: 3/21/2011 - HC  [PDF - 413 KB]

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Related News Releases For Alexandria City County, Alexandria, Virginia


ATSDR Releases Final Report on GenOn Energy, Inc./Mirant Potomac River Generating Station Site
Release Date: Monday, March 21, 2011
A final version of a report on air quality near the site formerly known as Mirant Potomac River Generating Station includes new data from after the station’s 2009 stack merge, but does not change ATSDR’s conclusions or recommendations.

ATSDR to Host Open House About Environmental Health Activities in Alexandria, VA
Release Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Atlanta - The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) will hold an Open House on Aug. 2 so that Alexandria, VA residents can learn more about the agency’s public health activities related to air quality concerns near the Mirant Potomac River Generating Station.

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