May 7, 2015

Army Corps Comes Clean, Releases Suppressed 1986 Photo Analysis

This report utilizes historical aerial photography to identify potential problem areas at American University, Washington, D.C., originating from past activities at a World War I Chemical Warfare Experimental Station.  During World War I the Bureau of Mines was allowed to use American University and surrounding property to conduct research and small-scale testing of chemical warfare items.  In 1986 American University requested assistance from the Department of the Army in obtaining information relating to these activities.  

Three years of historical aerial photography (1918, 1927, and 1937) were obtained and analyzed by the U.S. EPA's Environmental Photographic Interpretation Center (EPIC) ... Significant features identified include shell pits, trenches, possible test areas, and possible burial sites ... The location of those features identified in the analysis that are related to possible disposal (burial) of munitions and chemical agents have been transferred to a 1982 aerial photograph. 
Historical Photographic Analysis
July 1986, Vol. I (pgs. 24, 28)
1986 EPIC Photo Analysis, Vol. II (fig. 2)
Allen Hengst: [47:05]  Did the report identify areas other than Bender Arena where there might be buried munitions in Spring Valley?
Dan Noble: I don't believe so.  I mean, we'd have to get the report and see the conclusions ... 

Hengst:  Well, I've read about it and I think they did identify areas outside Bender Arena.  So that becomes a crucial event.  In 1986, which was seven years before the discoveries on 52nd Court — before the beginning of Operation Safe Removal — AU knew, the Army knew and EPA knew but they kept quiet about it ... 

Noble:  I mean, let's think about this.  In 1920 the Army completed its activities at American University Experiment Station and left.  Since then, the Army knew what it did ... Institutionally, the Army knew what it did since 1917 ... 

Ginny Durrin I think, to be historically accurate, you should include all of the documentation that was produced by this 1986 effort ... There are aerial maps of Spring Valley showing the ground scars, showing the points of interest (or things that were going to become "Points of Interest") ... Those documents should be in the Tenley Public Library.

  [50:31] I think they are.  If they're not, I'll get a copy of the report and put it in there.

Spring Valley RAB Meeting
May 5, 2015 (audio recording)

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