Mar 21, 2012

Fordham Road Holdout at Possible Burial Pit Still Thwarting Cleanup

Project manager Dan Noble reported that he has been unable to gain access to a home in the 3700 block of Fordham Road, where he suspects there might be another burial pit of potentially dangerous chemicals ... Old photos of the site show a series of trenches in other areas that led to burial pits. There is also a 1918 aerial photo showing a scar on the ground that looks similar to scars where other buried munitions have been found.
Noble said Army headquarters will make a decision as to whether to take legal action to gain admission to the property, depending on the danger it might pose to the neighbors and the general community ... Four readings taken at the site had arsenic counts greater than 20 parts per million -- the agreed-upon safe limit -- and "one as high as 107."

Northwest Current
March 21, 2012 (pg. 4)
Sedgwick Trench below & left of 52nd Court Trench
Identified as the Sedgwick Trench.  The Army performed extensive field testing of chemical warfare agents such as mustard, phosgene, chloropicrin, and cyanogen chloride at this site.  The Sedgwick Trench is comprised of circular trenches approximately 200 feet in diameter.  Livens and 75 millimeter shells with agent were statically fired in the center of the circular trenches.

Mar 13, 2012

RAB Member Insists $230 Million Cleanup "Not Worth the Money"

Now, the cleanup of what was known as the American University Experiment Station is nearing a crucial point. This spring, the Army Corps of Engineers plans to tear down a house that may be atop a lost burial pit that an Army sergeant called “Hades” in a grainy 1918 photograph. That photograph ... has provided the surest clue to the pit’s location, which has been one of the most elusive mysteries in the nearly 20-year cleanup ...

More than 1,600 properties have been tested for arsenic, and the Army has removed tons of tainted soil, destroyed more than 1,000 munitions and carted off intact bottles of chemicals ... “What’s the risk to any of us in this community?” asked Dr. Lee H. Monsein, a radiologist who sits on the project advisory board. “Very, very low. What’s the cost to remove that risk, or mitigate that risk? Very, very expensive. Is it worth the money? Absolutely not."

The exact location of the Maurer pit, as it is known, has remained a question. The corps believes, based on the photograph and other evidence, that a home next to the ambassador’s was built atop the pit, which may have been disturbed or even removed during construction ... Still, doubters remain. Kent Slowinski, a landscaper who grew up in the neighborhood and remains one of the corps’ most outspoken critics, believes the pit is higher on the hillside. “We keep finding out one thing after another where the Army corps says one thing and it turns out not to be true, and the situation turns out to be much worse than what they told us,” he said.
Theo Emery
New York Times
March 18, 2012 (pg. A-17)

Mar 4, 2012

Feds Spent $75,000 to Examine Glenbrook Road Health Concerns

Recently, ATSDR [Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry] began preparing a health consultation focused specifically on the 4825 Glenbrook Road site. This document is being prepared ... to assess possible health concerns for the construction workers who built the house and the family who lived in the house. A total of $75,000 was allocated by USACE Headquarters for the 4825 Glenbrook Road health consultation in fiscal year (FY) 2011 and FY 2012 ...

The Army Corps felt that contamination identified during high probability test pit investigations between November 2009 and March 2010 could be related to descriptions of anecdotal construction worker exposures at the 4825 Glenbrook Road site. Findings that corroborated with these anecdotal reports included chemical agent in soil and intact AUES-related glassware containing chemicals such as arsenic trichloride. These findings were unique compared to data generated previously at the site, including the Pit 3 area, and at other burial pits in Spring Valley.

Jim Sweeney, District Department of the Environment, clarified that he has not seen the draft document. The draft ATSDR report was reviewed by DDOE’s Public Information Office, and he has not seen the draft report or the comments provided by his agency. DDOE will hopefully have the opportunity to review the rewritten draft final report.

Nan Wells, ANC-3D Commissioner: Was a technical review conducted by the Public Information Office?

J. Sweeney was not familiar with the degree of technical involvement during the draft report review.
RAB Meeting Minutes
January 10, 2012 (pgs. 9 - 13)
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