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ATSDR Press Room

ATSDR Releases Final Report on GenOn Energy, Inc./Mirant Potomac River Generating Station Site

Alexandria City County, Alexandria, Virginia

Monday, March 21, 2011

A final version of a report on air quality near the GenOn Energy, Inc. 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.
In its report, ATSDR addressed public comments. The agency also applauded local efforts to pursue reductions in air contamination.

The original report looked at data from 2007 and 2008; a new appendix examined data from 2009 and 2010. Information from after the stack merge showed lower sulfur dioxide measurements at the remaining three monitoring stations.
However, this information may not be representative of an overall lowering of sulfur dioxide levels; as the station’s output was lower during the time period of the later assessment, and the pre-and post-stack merge operating data were not taken during the same seasonal periods.

ATSDR’s conclusions are:

  • 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.

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.

The public health assessment is available at A fact sheet and other information about the site can be found at

A hard copy is also available at:

Commonwealth of Virginia
Alexandria Health Department
4480 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22302
c/o Dean Bryant

For more information about the public health assessment, community members can contact Lora Werner, ATSDR Regional Representative, 215.814.3141,

ATSDR, a federal public health agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, evaluates the human health effects of exposure to hazardous substances.

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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 Report on Mirant Potomac River Generating Station
Release Date: 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.

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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