Sep 20, 2013

High Probability Dig Resumes after Clearing 3½-Year CERCLA Hurdle

A crucial and potentially risky step in the cleanup of a former chemical weapons dumping site near American University begins Monday.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says there is "high probability" they will discover more debris at the former American University Experiment Station, where the Army tested chemical weapons during World War I ...Previous digging and research indicates the likely presence of mustard gas and lewisite -- an arsenic-containing blister agent -- under the former home.  
"The reason we decided to remove the house is we did see scattered debris around the property and we do have some concerns that there may be additional debris underneath the foundation and the floor of the home," says [project manager] Brenda Barber ... With near-real-time air monitoring for chemical agents and industrial compounds, Barber says preparations have been made to ensure the neighborhood is safe.  "If there is a release under the engineering control structure it will be confined to the treatment system, and there will be no release to the public" says Barber.
Neal Augenstein
September 20, 2013  

For more than 20 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been conducting clean-up operations to remove World War I materiel discovered at various locations on or near the American University main campus and throughout the Spring Valley neighborhood ... On September 23, 2013, the Army Corps is scheduled to resume excavation activities along Glenbrook Road, which parallels the southern border of AU’s campus, as designated on the attached map.  The Army Corps has conducted work on that site (4825 Glenbrook Road) for the past 10 years ...
The area of primary focus for the dedicated safety measures on the AU campus is the southwest corner of campus including the Watkins Building and the edge of the Jacobs Field.  The Army Corps has deployed an emergency notification system, which includes sirens, strobe lights, and an automated telephone/email notification system.   This system will be tested on a monthly basis, on the first Wednesday of each month at 4:05 p.m.
David Taylor, President’s Chief of Staff

Army Corps of Engineers Resumption of Activities
September 18, 2013

Sep 11, 2013

Spring Valley Health Studies Deemed "Inconclusive by Design"

In his Aug. 14 letter to the editor, Malcolm Pritzker quarrels with The Current’s Aug. 7 editorial, which criticized the recently completed Johns Hopkins School of Public Health community health study because it “failed to scratch the surface” of a “host of rare health problems among Spring Valley residents” ... Hopkins’ convenient reliance on the [D.C. Cancer] Registry means the study ignored all non-cancer cases such as immune deficiency, autoimmune disorders and blood disorders (including aplastic anemia, pernicious anemia and multiple myeloma); ignored all cases from the 65 years prior to the registry; and ignored clusters of rare diseases that struck residents living on the same properties over a period of time ...

What went wrong?  In short, if you forget that your mission is to protect against further illness, don’t be surprised if you draft an incomplete statement of work, select the wrong contractor and obtain a useless result.  Weak contract management, with no requirement for in-progress reports and no review process, can only make matters worse.
Kent Slowinski
Northwest Current
September 11, 2013 (pg. 9)

Two federal agencies, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ADSTR), bear the primary responsibility for safeguarding the nation's environmental health ... Both of these agencies have routinely funded and conducted studies of effects of toxic pollution on public health which are inconclusive by design.  These intentionally inconclusive studies have been used by polluters and government officials to mislead citizens into believing that further measures to prevent toxic exposures are unnecessary.
Inconclusive by Design

Russell, Lewis & Keating
May 1992

I wrote to Hopkins several times offering to provide a list of folks from that period who lived on Rockwood Parkway, Glenbrook Road, Indian Lane, Quebec Street, 49th Street, et cetera for follow-up.  I got one response to the three letters I sent, promising to contact me in “the future.”  I’m still waiting ... the children who grew up in Spring Valley and who spent many hours playing in those woods and around those bunkers, as my brother and I and our friends did, should have been looked at ...  Many of us have died; I have no sense of whether the numbers or the causes are anomalous, but we’ll never know.  Nobody asked for the information.
Patricia Meyers

Northwest Current
September 18, 2013 (pg. 10)
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