Aug 27, 2014

East Campus Construction Starts Despite Concern over Chemicals

Over the past few months, crews have been preparing the Nebraska Avenue parking lot for construction activities that will commence this week as part of AU’s East Campus development at New Mexico and Nebraska Avenues ... A field office has been built for the on-site project team, erosion control measures have been installed to mitigate the impact of storm water runoff outside the perimeter of the site, and the necessary permits have been acquired to begin construction.  With this enabling work completed, construction is now under way.
AU in the Neighborhood

September 2014

Excavation and building permits for the East Campus project at the site of the school’s Nebraska Avenue parking lot are on hold pending sign-off from the D.C. Department of the Environment ...  Some neighbors and community leaders are pushing for more intensive review of possible contamination at the site due to the university’s World War I history, which has cost some $250 million in cleanup over the last two decades.  The parking lot site was never used for the same Army chemical munitions testing ...  but advisory neighborhood commissioner Kent Slowinski worries that soil could have been taken there from toxic areas.  
“If they moved contaminated soil to the site from another property, you could expect to find the same chemicals,” Slowinski said ... A former owner of the parking lot site had leased other land to the Army, Slowinski said, making it possible that dirt could have been moved around.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has said that mercury has not been a widespread contaminant associated with the American University Experiment Station ...  Slowinski, meanwhile, points to a 1922 aerial photo showing ground scars on the property that he says point to disturbances, and neighbors note that mercury has been found in soil (though not groundwater) on the university campus.
2009 trenching over 1922 ground scars

The Area of Interest (AOI) 20 report is based on a 1922 aerial photograph that shows a series of linear ground scars.  AOI 20 is located outside the Formerly Used Defense Site boundary ... There is no historical evidence this parcel of land was ever used by AUES or Camp Leach.  Three trenches (each approximately 50 feet long) were dug through six of the land scars.  No AUES material was observed and no soil staining ... All soil appeared to be native undisturbed soil.
Dan Noble, Project Manager
Spring Valley FUDS
June 5, 2014

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