o travel down the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. is to journey through the dregs of the material world. Legions of beer cans and 7-11 Big Gulp cups line the banks, and shards of glass sparkle in the sun. Tires sporadically wash ashore. Even yacht clubs are affected.
The Anacostia begins inauspiciously at the confluence of several creeks in a working class area of suburban Maryland and flows past some of the poorest neighborhoods in the District of Columbia. just above and below the District line, access to the river is restricted by barbed wire fences near the sprawling Potomac Electric Power Company and Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission plants at the river’s banks. A huge scrap metal company straddles the river.
“This is where there’s the highest concentration of pollutants. And they just wash down stream. You can almost draw a racial line across this area of the river. White people live above it and black people live below it. Ifs that blatant,” says Joe Lane of the Anacostia chapter of Earth First! Lane has led what he calls “toxic tours” by bike of the Anacostia.
For Robert …