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)

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