Apr 25, 2010

Student Holds Forum on Toxins Buried Under American University

The discussion, titled The Toxins beneath American University aimed to inform the AU community and Spring Valley residents about the future of remediation efforts and potential health issues, according to Michael Ginsberg, a senior in the School of International Service ... "I held this panel at Wesley Seminary, not American University, because the administration would not permit it to take place on campus," [Ginsberg said] ... "AU is not truly interested in open dialogue on the issues at hand, but in preserving and maintaining its sanitized presentation of the facts."

"According to a 1921 article in The Courier, American University's trustees gave permission to the Army to bury $800,000 of chemical warfare agents, munitions and explosives on campus and released the federal government of all liability in exchange for 8 buildings that the Army built," [Kent Slowinski observed]. "This is one of the worst cases of environmental contamination in the District of Columbia. The responsible thing to do, according to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, is to set up a disease registry for AU students, faculty and staff, as well as Spring Valley residents, workers and tenants."
Christopher Cottrell
The Eagle
April 25, 2010

Ginsburg invited 28 potential speakers, including representatives of the university and the Army Corps of Engineers, but only five attended, none of them representing the Army or the school's administration ... As for the university, spokesperson Camille Lepre said the school administration did not jointly decide against participating. Rather, she said Ginsberg asked a number of university officials to attend and "each person made their own decision based on their own schedules."
Ian Thomas
Northwest Current
May 12, 2010 (pg. 3)

Apr 16, 2010

"Smoking" Arsenic Discovery Stops Excavations at Burial Pit 3

Workers found a larger jar with mustard, glassware that was smoking and fuming, scrap munitions and a shell containing a tear gas agent. In late March, the Army Corps uncovered the smoking chemical arsenic trichloride for the first time in the cleanup project. It can be used to develop the blistering agent lewisite, Noble said. Digging was halted shortly after while officials review their safety procedures. American University spokeswoman Camille Lepre said there were no plans to move or cancel any campus events scheduled at the [neighboring] president's house.
Brett Zongker

Associated Press
April 16, 2010

On Glenbrook Road two houses sit side-by-side. To the left is the stately, stone home with eight white columns and fine landscaping where American University President Cornelius Kerwin hosts picnics with students; right next door is a brick house surrounded by a 10-foot chain link fence, topped by a single strand of barbed wire. Two structures encased in plastic tarps sit atop the most potentially lethal toxic waste site in any U.S. city ... Behind Sibley Hospital, the Army is disposing bombs in the EDS, a mobile unit that's designed to take the toxicity from the chemicals. The EDS is right next to Dalecarlia Reservoir, 50 yards away from a water treatment facility, and not far from an assisted living facility.
Harry Jaffe

Washington Examiner
April 18, 2010

Apr 7, 2010

Munitions Disposal begins April 15; DDOE Requires Safety Plan First

Preparations continued this month for the upcoming destruction of the 5 chemical munitions and 20 liquid-filled (non-chemical agent) items near the Spring Valley Project Field Offices on federal property ... The destruction of the chemical munitions is tentatively scheduled to start on April 15th and will take about 6 working days to complete, dependent on weather. Following neutralization of the chemical agent-filled munitions, the liquid-filled munition items will be processed. The EDS operation is expected to be complete in early May.
Spring Valley Monthly Project Update
March 2010

Emergency Destruction System inside containment structure
The D.C. Department of the Environment will require the city to craft a public safety plan before allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the destruction of chemical munitions in Spring Valley ... Greg Nielson, the Army's group leader on the munitions destruction project, said the Army Corps had already taken safety steps "so we could take the public completely out of the picture. But if the District of Columbia wants to do more, hey, that's fine. If it makes the residents feel better, that's great."
Ian Thomas
Northwest Current
April 7, 2010 (pg. 1)
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