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Despite Health Risks, D.C. Power Plant Kept Open

Mirant employees (from left) Raymond Schlicht, Willie Davis and Bob Driscoll on the power plant's roof. Studies show the short stacks behind them contributed to pollution levels in the nearby neighborhood that far exceeded national pollution standards.
Elizabeth Shogren, NPR
Mirant employees (from left) Raymond Schlicht, Willie Davis and Bob Driscoll on the power plant's roof. Studies show the short stacks behind them contributed to pollution levels in the nearby neighborhood that far exceeded national pollution standards.

Hundreds of old coal-fired power plants still haven't installed modern pollution controls. One plant, across the Potomac River from the White House, is so vital to the Washington, D.C. region's electricity supply that the federal government is bending pollution rules to keep it running.

The federal government sees the Mirant power station in Alexandria, Va., as an essential source of electricity for central Washington. Local politicians and residents see it as an especially potent health hazard. They say that, even though the plant was here first, it doesn't belong in a neighborhood that's now full of garden apartments, brick town houses and high-rise condominiums.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elizabeth Shogren is an NPR News Science Desk correspondent focused on covering environment and energy issues and news.