Brandywine, MD as a "Sacrifice Zone" for the DMV

The PSEG Keys Energy Center is a natural gas-fired, combined cycle power plant under construction in Prince George’s County, approximately 1.25 miles (approximately 2km) east of Brandywine, Maryland, US. (Image courtesy of  CNN Business )

The PSEG Keys Energy Center is a natural gas-fired, combined cycle power plant under construction in Prince George’s County, approximately 1.25 miles (approximately 2km) east of Brandywine, Maryland, US. (Image courtesy of CNN Business)

The NRG Brandywine Coal Ash Landfill was constructed adjacent to North Keys Community Park, the only community park in Brandywine. Fugitive dust emissions leaving the landfill stand to expose adults and children to particulate matter, ultrafine particles, and toxic metals (including lead, arsenic, mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), silica dust, and radioactive particles).

The NRG Brandywine Coal Ash Landfill was constructed adjacent to North Keys Community Park, the only community park in Brandywine. Fugitive dust emissions leaving the landfill stand to expose adults and children to particulate matter, ultrafine particles, and toxic metals (including lead, arsenic, mercury, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), silica dust, and radioactive particles).

Brandywine, MD is an unincorporated community with less than 7,000 residents (approximately 72% are African-American) in Southern Prince George’s County. Being unincorporated means it does not have a mayor, town council, or representative government. This lack of political representation has led to Brandywine being exploited by County leadership and state officials to act as a dumping ground for industrial hazards and locally unwanted land uses (LULUs) and a sacrifice zone for the rest of Prince George’s County, the state of Maryland, and the Washington, DC region.

This community hosts a number of industrial hazards including surface mining operations, a Superfund site, sludge lagoon, concrete batching facility, a fly ash landfill, 3500 diesel truck trips/day, and contaminated soil from the site of the new DC United Soccer Stadium in the Buzzard Point area of Washington, DC. The 21-square mile town currently has three power plants in a 13-mile radius including: 1) Chalk Point Generating Station, 2) St. Charles Energy Center, and 3) Panda Cedarville. Two gas-fired power plants are being built within a 3 mile radius of Brandywine: 1) North Keys Energy Center and 2) Panda Mattawoman.

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The CEEJH team has been providing technical assistance to the BTB Coalition, a local community-based organization fighting for environmental justice led by Kamita Gray since 2016.  The team has performed a health impact assessment of a proposed incinerator in the region, assisted with public health workshops related to the power plants and other environmental hazards, provided testimony related to the a special exception for the fly ash landfill, and provided guidance on the submission of an administrative complaint to the US EPA Office of Civil Rights on the differential permitting of the power plants as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act against state agencies.  The team has performed air pollution monitoring using real-time sensors in the community and plans to work with the Coalition to perform citizen science to help mitigate the impacts of environmental hazards in the community.