Mar 18, 2011

Research Station Christened at AU in 1918 to Test Chemical Weapons

Archives & Special Collections, American University Library
"If you've ever been to the Spring Valley neighborhood in Northwest D.C., you know it's a hop, skip and jump from American University. It's home to television personalities and ambassadors. But almost 100 years ago, Spring Valley was, how shall we say, a little bit different. Okay, more like a lot a bit different. The Army was running a World War I era chemical warfare research station in the area."
WAMU 88.5 FM
Metro Connection

March 18, 2011

Archives & Special Collections, American University Library
The Mary Graydon Center once housed the U.S. government’s largest chemical warfare research lab. The lab, then known as the New Chemical Research building, was part of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Warfare Service branch ... A local newspaper, the Baltimore Evening Star, visited the campus in 1918. “Gas and flame fighting is a new wrinkle in the American Army, but the ‘Hell Fire Battalion' has taken to it as the duck takes to water,” the Evening Star wrote. “It offers more possibilities of adventure and action than any other branch of the service” ...

But, according to one Army engineer, what the “Hell Fire Battalion” left behind at AU was even more deadly than the Germans’ chemical weapons.
Sylvia Carignan

The Eagle
March 14, 2011

Mar 8, 2011

Arsenic = 124 ppm at Army's Monthly Partnering Meeting Site

Since May 2001, the US Army Corps of Engineers has hosted monthly meetings of the Spring Valley cleanup "partners" at its trailer-office on the federal property behind Sibley Hospital. This august body — including representatives from the EPA, DC Department of the Environment, American University, the Restoration Advisory Board and local elected officials — learned last November that the level of arsenic contamination outside the conference trailer measures 124 ppm, over six times the safety limit for the Spring Valley FUDS.
Blog Editor
WMD in DC  Arsenic removal for 4 contaminated grids along the federal property fence near the guard shack is tentatively scheduled for early 2011. Of these grids, 2 exceed the 43 ppm cleanup goal with concentrations of 58 ppm and 124 ppm arsenic ... USACE requested that arsenic grids on federal property with concentrations below 43 ppm be left in place, including 2 of the grids mentioned above as well as arsenic grids within the Dalecarlia Woods. USACE noted that the 43 ppm cleanup level is considered to be protective of human health on residential properties [instead of the 20 ppm standard], only if property access or landscaping issues interfere with soil removal. Although the presence of a fence and berm do not significantly interfere with removal of these grids, the 43 ppm cleanup level may be acceptable for grids on federal property.
Spring Valley Partners

Meeting Minutes
November 30, 2010 (pg. 14)

Mar 1, 2011

Student Newspaper Launches Investigative Series on AUES

In April 1917, just days after the United States declared war on Germany, AU’s president wrote a letter to the White House. “To his Excellency, Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States,” AU President Benjamin Leighton wrote. “I am authorized to extend to the United States Government the use of 92 acres of land lying within the District and composing the campus of the University … for such purpose as the Government may desire."

... While AU provided housing for thousands of soldiers, its academics suffered. University lectures, which were open to the public, were “reduced to a minimum,” The Courier wrote. “Sentinels challenge every person who enters the grounds and buildings; even the officers of the University must show their passes.” Though the University’s academic research faltered, research on chemical weapons began to thrive on the campus grounds. 
Sylvia Carignan
The Eagle
February 28, 2011
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