Jun 1, 2017

"The area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."
Donald Rumsfeld

Demolition of Public Safety Building Will Begin in June

The Public Safety Building, located on the south end of campus behind Anderson and Letts Halls, will be demolished this month, according to memos released by AU officials ... David Dower, the University’s assistant vice president of planning and project management, wrote in a May 15 memo that the demolition will begin on or about June 1 ... A 2015 report released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) revealed that there are likely residual World War I munitions buried beneath the Public Safety building.  During World War I, AU was used as a testing site for military weapons, including ammunition and chemical weapons.  Following the war, land owned by the University was used to bury hazardous materials and remaining munitions, The Eagle previously reported ... Kelly Alexander, AU’s director of public relations, said the University notified ACE in May 2016 that it intended to demolish the building in conjunction with the opening of East Campus and wanted ACE to finish its remediation work required for the area. 
“The Army Corps allocated funds in its current budget for the [building’s] remediation work and is in the process of developing the work and safety plans for this project,” Alexander said in an email ... Following the demolition, Dower wrote in his May 15 memo that AU expects ACE to conduct additional remediation activities in the area during the fall 2017 semester ... “Once they get to the foundation, we would plan to have our crews carry out the rest of the removal,” [ACE communications official Chris] Gardner said.  “Once the foundation is removed, we would work to excavate a great deal of the material below the foundation as we work to remove debris.  Our crews will also sample the soil, testing for any potential contaminants that could stem from past military activity and removing any contaminated soils.”  The timeframe for the removal project depends on what ACE encounters at the site, Gardner said.
Haley Samsel
The Eagle
June 1, 2017

May 23, 2017

Angry Construction Workers Stir Up May Advisory Board Meeting

Two workers from the 1990’s residential construction effort at both 4825 and 4835 Glenbrook Road attended this week’s Restoration Advisory Board meeting.  After the meeting, the workers who had travelled from West Virginia and the project team had a long, productive conversation.  We immediately sent them last year’s ATSDR Health Consultation report and ATSDR contact information so they could discuss their health concerns.  We again invited the workers to tour the project site and adjacent property at 4835 Glenbrook Road, to share their recollections from initial construction.  We are coordinating the logistics for this site visit soon.  At the request of the RAB, we will present an update on our ongoing dialogue with the workers and their upcoming site visit at the next RAB meeting, scheduled for Tuesday evening July 11.  The workers were also invited to return to a future RAB meeting to share their recollections from the construction of the two properties.
Spring Valley FUDS
RAB Meeting Update
May 12, 2017

Worker #1I know more than y'all have ever said or put out to the public.  You sugar-coat and coverup so much.  You only put out what you think people want to hear ... I have proof beyond a shadow of doubt of what came off of 4835.

Brenda Barber:  We'd be more than happy to discuss that with you.  We don't have access to Mr. Brandt's payroll.  We've been trying to gain access to that ...

Worker #1Once this first started and it went through Lawrence Brandt and the people who bought the house originally — once you found out there was really a lot of [chemical] agents and problems there — all of the employees should have been the first people to be notified and taken care of.  You're not the one who has health issues.  You're not the one who suffers and neither are the rest of these people sitting here ... Lawrence Brandt, American University and the government have literally shafted us ... I was at a [RAB] meeting one year ago across New Mexico Avenue in that church basement.  I talked to the RAB after that meeting — again, she waited until late October, the first of November and then pushed it off.  I had no way to contact her; she never called me.  She was supposed to have set up a meeting "within the next few weeks" ...

Worker #2You were talking about going two feet past the [4825] property line or however far over ... When you're being told by people that worked there — that built it — that it's under the house.  There's as much, if not more, under 4835 than 4825.

Barber:  And as I was trying to say earlier: there’s no physical way — without removing the house — for me to go under the house and do any type of investigative effort …

Worker #2If I set a bottle on the table that came out from under 4835, will you look at it? ...  Keith Powell gave me permission to remove the bottle.  I took it home with me.  I've got it under lock and key ... And that's just one bottle out of the thousands that were crushed. 
Spring Valley FUDS
RAB Meeting Minutes 
May 9, 2017

May 12, 2017

Landscapers Find Old Livens Round in AU President's Garden

 Livens round found in AU President's garden (4/28/17)
On April 28th, munition debris from an old Livens round was found in a landscaped area near the American University President's office building (see attached pictures).  The item was found in the garden to the left of the driveway/parking area leading up to the President's office building.  It was discovered by an AU landscaping crew while digging just below the surface.  Our Site Safety Officer, an Army Corps ordinance expert, went to the AU campus location to evaluate the situation.  He carefully dug up the item and mitigated the area in order to return to perform soil sampling if necessary.  The munition debris was immediately double-bagged and transported to Federal Property.  As a reminder, Livens were one of the munitions used at the American University Experiment Station during WWI.  As a conservative measure, we will perform further testing for the presence of WWI chemical agent.  Any findings and updates will be reported in a few weeks in the May Monthly Project Summary.
Community Outreach Team
Spring Valley Project Update
May 12, 2017

Apr 7, 2017

'Unknown Black Substance' Stops Excavation Behind Retaining Wall

Five years after the house at 4825 Glenbrook Rd. NW, was removed, in the Spring Valley neighborhood, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tells WTOP the final stages of the cleanup of toxic munitions is in the midst of a brief pause, after crews found an unknown black substance mixed with soil on the property.  “We don’t know what it is, but it has low levels of mustard,” said Chris Gardner, spokesman with the Corps’ Baltimore District.  In functioning weapons, mustard gas can cause large blisters on skin and in lungs.  After the April discovery of the substance, the Army Corps, Environmental Protection Agency and [DC's] Department of Energy & Environment performed additional soil sampling, and decided to pause the cleanup, to factor-in plans for handling the soil.
The project partners determined the low risk of the soil did not require enlarging the fenced-in safety zone ... The Spring Valley project began in 1993, when a contractor unearthed buried military ordinance on nearby 52nd Court NW. During World War I the U.S. government researched and tested chemical agents, equipment, and munitions at the American University Experiment Station Since 2000, more than 500 munition items, 400 pounds of laboratory glassware, and 100 tons of contaminated soil have been removed from the site, according to the Corps ... Gardner said the project will likely resume by the end of May or beginning of June. 
Neal Augenstein

During our efforts [along the shared property line between 4825 and 4835 Glenbrook Road] we encountered small amounts of broken glassware and an unknown solid black substance in the soil.  Samples of the solid black substance recovered this week are being sent for analysis.  The first small sample of this substance was recovered and taken for analysis toward the end of February, and the results returned this week showed a small amount of mustard and agent breakdown products within the substance.  Our air monitors did not detect any chemicals present in the air during excavation operations associated with the unknown black solid ... We will continue to follow all safety protocol as we continue to hand dig and sift through the soil behind the retaining wall.
Glenbrook Road Update
On Wednesday, during low probability operations along the shared property, the crew encountered additional amounts of the unknown black substance mixed with the soil behind the retaining wall.  The area was quickly mitigated by covering it with plastic sheeting and a layer of soil.  The team decided to perform additional sampling of the soils and materials behind the former curved retaining wall area along the shared property line.  We had a small crew come in this morning to take soil samples adjacent to the unknown black substance, plus additional samples of the unknown substance.  As safety is our priority, we have decided to shift our area of operations within the site.  We plan to resume our efforts in the backyard area of the property while awaiting the sampling results. 
Glenbrook Road Update
April 7, 2017

Mar 18, 2017

Pilot Project Evaluated Three Different Geophysical Instruments

In November, our team completed the Pilot Project at three selected residential properties.  The collected data is currently being used to evaluate the suitability of using two newly developed “Advanced Classification” geophysical instruments [the Time domain Electromagnetic Multi-sensor Towed Array Detection System (TEMTADS) and Man Portable Vector (MPV)] within the Spring Valley residential area to detect and correctly identify buried munitions and explosives of concern related items during upcoming cleanup activities outlined in Site-Wide Decision Document being finalized ... For the purposes of the Pilot Project, all detected anomalies were intrusively investigated (dug up and removed from the ground).  About 200 anomalies on average were removed from each property.  The purpose of this effort was to verify if the new instruments were characterizing the anomalies correctly.  The majority of the items were innocuous non-military related cultural debris, such as nails, wire, bottle caps, and wire baskets.  Four pieces of munitions debris were also removed from the site: three fragments of munitions debris and one three inch Stokes mortar, which was determined to be an unfused practice round and did not contain any explosive or chemicals.  The TEMTADS and MPV both identified the Stokes mortar correctly.
Spring Valley USACE
The Corps'pondent
February 2017 (pg. 2)
[Project Manager Dan] Noble added that what is also interesting about the new technology is that it is the same technology as the EM-61 instrument that missed the target in previous investigations ... because the target was too close to the house.  These new instruments, because they are very focused on the ground immediately underneath the instruments, have very good resolution for what is directly underneath them.  The new instruments were able to clearly see that there was an anomalous area using the exact same EM (electromagnetic) technology that formerly was blind in the same area ... The previous instrument was the size of a lawnmower and recorded GPS coordinates of targets for later review.  The new technique includes the same dynamic scan, and when a target is located the team will go back and perform a cued investigation.  The cued investigation is the second part of the survey in which the instrument is parked directly over the target for approximately 30 to 60 seconds.  A tremendous amount of data calculations are created concerning decay constants of the target.  This allows the precision of location and identification of the target, leading to a better excavation decision.
Restoration Advisory Board
Meeting Minutes
January 10, 2017 (pg. 6)

The summary of the Pilot Project results did confirm that Advanced Geophysical Classification (AGC) is more effective at munitions detection than the current conventional EM-61 digital geophysical mapping methods used, but that there were some challenges.  It was also concluded that AGC should be used with the G-858 magnetometer in order to detect large items at deeper depths.  The report concluded that TEMTADS and the MPV each have their own advantages and disadvantages, but that either instrument could be efficiently used for the full scale munitions remediation throughout Spring Valley.  The AGC method would provide the highest level of confidence in the geophysical surveys.  USACE expects the AGC method will provide less anomaly investigation throughout the remedial action for the Spring Valley FUDS.
Spring Valley FUDS Partners
Meeting Minutes
February 9, 2017 (pg. 4)

Mar 9, 2017

Environmental Group Leads Toxic Tours of Former WW I Army Base

AUES Spring Valley tours provide context to better understand the issues surrounding the cleanup of this Formerly Used Defense Site. Tours focus on historical features of the American University Experiment Station, the current Army Corps of Engineers cleanup operations and residents’ health problems. Tours are led by a former Restoration Advisory Board member and Spring Valley resident. Each tour takes approximately 1½ hours.  Participants see where testing occurred during World War I and where chemical munitions are being removed today. For more information contact ahengst@verizon.net.
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