Dec 27, 2016

EPA Agrees to Promulgate Perchlorate Regs by 2019

US EPA recently agreed in federal court to engage in a rulemaking process over the next three-plus years which would culminate in the promulgation of final perchlorate regulations by December 19, 2019. Perchlorate remains the only unregulated contaminant for which EPA has made a final determination to regulate since the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was amended in 1996. Perchlorate is a highly soluble chemical in water and can move quickly from soil contamination into groundwater. It has been used by the US Department of Defense as an oxidizer in munitions and missiles since the 1940s, and 90 percent of its manufacturing is for the defense and aerospace industries. In a February 2011 declaration, EPA determined that it should regulate perchlorate in drinking water — giving itself 24 months from that date to propose regulations and another 18 months thereafter to finalize them under the SDWA. However, due in part to the Scientific Advisory Board’s rejection of the model EPA submitted for perchlorate regulation, these self-imposed deadlines were missed. As a result of the delay, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a complaint in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York against EPA in February 2016 to enforce the deadline for proposed perchlorate regulations for public comment. 
In the NRDC case, the Agency acknowledged that it failed its legal obligations to propose and promulgate a maximum contaminant level (MCL) and maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) as a national primary drinking water standard for perchlorate ... Under the proposed agreement, EPA will: complete an “external peer review process” by October 18, 2017; propose limits by October 31, 2018; and finalize a rule by December 19, 2019. Given the amount of delay that has already occurred in promulgating federal regulations, it is somewhat surprising that NRDC accepted the length of the proposed schedule ... It is noteworthy that, in likely response to national attention paid to the Flint Michigan crisis, two US House of Representatives resolutions (H.R. 6116 and H.R. 6140 ) were introduced on September 22, 2016 that, if passed, would require the EPA Administrator to publish an MCLG and promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for perchlorate no later than 12 months following the law’s date of enactment. This proposed legislation amending the federal SDWA has the potential to expedite the rulemaking process outlined in the settlement agreement reached between EPA and NRDC.
Jonathan S. King
National Law Review
December 26, 2019

Oct 7, 2016

Army Recommends "Feasibility Study" to Remediate Groundwater

During World War I, the U.S. Government established the American University Experiment Station (AUES) to investigate the testing, production, and effects of noxious gases, antidotes, and protective masks.  The AUES, located on the current grounds of AU, used additional property in the vicinity to conduct this research and develop chemical warfare materiel (CWM), including mustard (HD) and lewisite (L) agents, as well as adamsite, irritants, and smokes.  After the war, these activities were transferred to other locations and the AUES property was returned to the owners ...
Early in the SVFUDS groundwater study, much of the SVFUDS groundwater was noted to flow westward toward the natural valley currently occupied by the Dalecarlia Reservoir.  The reservoir water elevation (typically about 150 feet mean sea level (ft msl) was also noted to be similar to the water table elevation along the eastern reservoir shoreline, indicating the potential for groundwater seepage into the reservoir along the eastern reservoir boundary ... The maximum arsenic and perchlorate concentrations ever measured in groundwater proximate to the eastern reservoir shoreline are orders of magnitude less than the threshold concentration (3,906 part per billion) that would increase the reservoir concentration by 1 ppb.  Thus, the reservoir water quality is not threatened by possible groundwater seepage into the reservoir ...
Chemical releases from historical AUES activities have impacted groundwater and surface water proximate to the Lot 18 Debris Area and Glenbrook Road Disposal Areas.  The impacts are due to arsenic and perchlorate in groundwater ... The perchlorate detected in groundwater along Glenbrook Road and in East Creek could partially, or in total, originate from the nearby upgradient area proximate to AU’s Kreeger Hall where perchlorate-impacted shallow and deep groundwater has been confirmed.  The source of the groundwater perchlorate contamination on AU near Kreeger Hall, originally evidenced by groundwater perchlorate monitoring data for several locations (PZ-4S, PZ-4D, and PZ-5) is not known precisely ...
For the future scenarios, the arsenic cancer risk is 1E-04, and the perchlorate non-cancer target organ-specific HI [Hazard Index] exceeds the non-cancer threshold of 1.  Arsenic and perchlorate are groundwater EU2 [Exposure Unit 2] chemicals of concern.  Actions to control exposure to arsenic and perchlorate in groundwater EU2 would warrant consideration, if groundwater is to be used for potable water ... Chemical releases from historical AUES activities have impacted groundwater and surface water proximate to the Lot 18 Debris Area and Glenbrook Road Disposal Areas.  The impacts are due to arsenic and perchlorate in groundwater ... A Feasibility Study is recommended to determine the best alternative to remediate the groundwater risk to future residential users.
Spring Valley FUDS
Groundwater Remedial Investigation Report
September 2016

Sep 1, 2016

"Proposed Plan" Comment Period Extended until September 28

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District is extending the public comment period for the recently released Site-Wide Proposed Plan for the Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS), offering the public an additional 30 days to provide feedback.  This extension means public comments will continue to be accepted through September 28, 2016.  The Proposed Plan outlines the recommended cleanup actions to address any remaining unacceptable risks posed by soil contamination resulting from chemicals of concern and potential unacceptable explosive hazards due to munitions and explosives of concern.  The Proposed Plan is based on the Remedial Investigation and subsequent Feasibility Study.   
 
The RI detailed the history of the site, including the previously completed investigations and work, such as removals of arsenic contaminated soil and munitions related items that have taken place at the Spring Valley FUDS since the 1990s.  The Feasibility Study evaluated various clean-up alternatives, providing the basis for the preferred remedial alternatives identified in the Proposed Plan.  The public is encouraged to review the Proposed Plan in the public record and submit comments on the Proposed Plan, which can be found online under Project Efforts/Proposed Plan.  Written comments can be sent to the following mailing address: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Chris Gardner, Rm. 11400, 10 South Howard St., Baltimore, MD 21201; or by e-mail to: christopher.p.gardner@usace.army.mil no later than midnight September 28, 2016.
Public Notice
Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site
August 29, 2016

Aug 10, 2016

Hengst: "What about burial pits under the AU President's house?"

I strongly disagree with the Corps’ conclusion that no further investigation is necessary under the house at 4835 Glenbrook Road NW [Site-Wide Proposed Plan] ... In addition to lingering explosive hazards ... [the] area [is] up-gradient of the entire Spring Valley community, thus contaminating the groundwater from the ridge at the formerly used defense site’s boundary along Nebraska Avenue NW all the way down to Sibley Memorial Hospital ... At a September 2011 community meeting with Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D, project manager Brenda Barber was asked by then-commissioner Kent Slowinski whether the Corps had talked to the workers at 4825 and 4835 Glenbrook who — in several videotaped interviews — identified precisely where munitions and chemical-filled bottles were buried during construction of those buildings.  At that time, Barber replied: “Our legal counsel is actively engaged in trying to find out the names of those employees so that we can do additional interviews with them.”
For the next five years, the Army Corps evidently tried in vain to find these witnesses to the burials, yet three of those missing workers unexpectedly showed up at the May 2016 Restoration Advisory Board meeting to publicly repeat their claims. In an interview after the meeting, one of them reported that the “worst” contamination was still under the house at 4835, claiming: “There’s all kinds of stuff under it, stuff that could explode under you”  [“Workers recount Glenbrook Road hazards,” May 18].  Whether or not the Corps believes these reports are credible, it’s indisputable that the plan was drafted and circulated to the cleanup partners for review well before May.
If the Army Corps had been searching for those workers since 2011, now that they’ve actually been located, isn’t it obligated to at least consider these eyewitness reports somewhere in its plan?  Does anyone care that project manager Dan Noble admitted on numerous occasions that the only intrusive investigation ever conducted beneath the footprint of 4835 Glenbrook was a solitary borehole in the center of the basement?  Since the Army has launched a “potentially responsible party” investigation to identify the developers of 4835 Glenbrook ... (in order to recoup added cleanup costs), isn’t it the Corps’ fiduciary responsibility to determine what the price tag will be by actually remediating [this] site as soon as possible?
Allen Hengst
Northwest Current
August 10, 2016 (pg. 7)

Jul 15, 2016

Army Corps Punts on University's Public Safety Building Cleanup

To address possible disposal areas, a generic MEC HA [Munitions & Explosives of Concern Hazard Assessment] that conservatively assumed a worst case disposal area/burial pit scenario was completed ... Unknowns associated with the identified possible disposal areas ... suggest the need for response actions to mitigate unacceptable explosive hazards that could exist in these areas.  The AU Public Safety Building (PSB) is considered one of these possible disposal areas.  As the PSB is an active building on the AU campus, so long as it remains in place, it effectively acts as a cap or control to contain any potential explosive hazard (that is, it prevents interaction between source and receptor).  However, when the PSB is removed, the preferred explosive hazards mitigation alternative will be applied to the area and any burial pits will be properly addressed.
Spring Valley FUDS
Final Proposed Plan
June 7, 2016 (pg. 8)
The Partners discussed how to address the remedial action for the debris under the building during the unspecified period of time between the Decision Document (DD) and the removal of the building ... AU asked whether the university would have to wait after the building was removed, possibly years, until the AUES-related debris could be excavated and removed from the campus.  USACE confirmed that if the remedy is specified in the DD, the Army is required to fund implementation of it; however when it can be implemented based on the availability of funds for any given year is unclear ... AU explained that the building is expected to be no longer used for Public Safety operations once the new development on the East Campus is completed [March 2017].  The potential for unclear timing of a future remedy may influence the university’s plans for the building and whether a new office operation would be relocated to the building. 
Spring Valley Partners

Meeting Minutes 
November 3, 2015 (pgs. 7 - 8)
Allen HengstHave you discussed AU's future plans for that building, because it's falling apart? 
                                   
Dan NobleWe have indications from American University that the removal of that building is probably going to happen sooner rather than later.  So we are planning within our budgetary cycle to have the funds available to implement that portion of the remedy.
Restoration Advisory Board
Meeting Minutes
July 12, 2016 (pg. 10) 

Jun 17, 2016

Public Comments Sought on Site-Wide Spring Valley Cleanup

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will seek to minimize unnecessary disruptions to residents as it investigates several dozen properties in Spring Valley for possible buried munitions, the Army said Monday as it released its “preferred alternative” for the latest phase of work in the community. The Army has been working in Spring Valley since 1993 — at a cost of more than $267 million to date — to locate and remove contaminated soil and hazardous debris from areas where chemical munitions were tested during the World War I era ... The Army already investigated 43 residential properties (along with undeveloped woodland and D.C. right-of-way space) for these hazards between 2003 and 2010, in addition to other efforts elsewhere in Spring Valley that included munitions excavation and removal of contaminated soil. This time, the Army will return to check out another 49 properties and potentially revisit some of the earlier 43 ...  The preferred alternative plan released Monday calls for the Army to conduct digital geophysical mapping of open areas not yet investigated on these properties, and then to remove items determined to be a potential hazard. This preferred alternative, at an estimated average cost of $192,500 per property, avoids disturbing buildings, driveways, fences, and large trees and other “valuable” vegetation.
Brady Holt
Northwest Current
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District has released the Site-Wide Proposed Plan for the Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS) and will be hosting a public information session from 6:30 - 9:00 p.m. the evening of July 14, 2016 at American University.  The meeting will be held in the Butler Board Room on the 6th Floor of the Bender Arena at American University, at 4400 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C., 20016.  Free parking will be available at the Bender Arena parking garage after 5:00 p.m. ... The public will have the opportunity to submit oral or written comments regarding the Proposed Plan to the Meeting Recorder that evening.  The public can also submit comments via letter or e-mail until the end of the comment period, July 28, 2016 ... Written comments can be sent to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, ATTN: Chris Gardner, Rm. 11400, 10 South Howard St., Baltimore, MD 21201; or by e-mail to: christopher.p.gardner@usace.army.mil no later than midnight July 28, 2016.
US Army Corps of Engineers
Announcement of Site-Wide Proposed Plan
Spring Valley FUDS

May 31, 2016

"Missing" Workers Identify More Hazards at 4835 Glenbrook Road

A recent [Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry] report reached few strong conclusions about the health risks to residents and construction workers at 4825 Glenbrook Road NW, which was severely contaminated by chemical munitions left over from a World War I-era Army testing facility at American University.  But when the federal team behind the report presented their limited findings at last Tuesday’s Restoration Advisory Board meeting, the audience included three of those workers who built the house at the Spring Valley property — workers whom the researchers had been unable to reach.  Interviewed after the meeting, the three said they suffered fairly serious health problems while working at the site, and that they believe the worst contamination also affects the American University president’s house next door at 4835 Glenbrook“There’s all kinds of stuff under it, stuff that could explode under you,” one worker said ...  
 
Researchers were unable to get any specific information from the workers other than transcripts of past interviews with Ginny Durrin, a Spring Valley filmmaker who is working on a documentary about the testing and the decades-long cleanup project.  In those transcripts, the workers express grave concerns about 4835 Glenbrook.  They alleged that contaminated soil ... and suspicious items were covered over with a layer of concrete.  Army Corps spokesperson Christopher Gardner said investigators did thoroughly check 4835 in 2007 and 2008.
Northwest Current
May 18, 2016

May 18, 2016

Army Testing 'Metal Mapper' to Expedite 3-Year Cleanup Timeline

As the Army Corps of Engineers investigates properties in Spring Valley for possible remaining hazards, the community’s Restoration Advisory Board is asking that the Army develop a system for prioritizing the properties on its work list, with some residents pushing for priority to be given to owners hoping to sell their homes.  Although the Army’s work in the neighborhood — investigating and addressing contamination from World War I-era chemical munitions testing — is largely complete, officials last year identified about 100 properties that they wanted to look into further ...  The board unanimously asked the Army to report back in July with a description of how it will prioritize properties ...  With the current testing methods, [project manager Dan Noble] said it could take the Army as long as three years to look at all 100 suspect properties and remove all potentially dangerous items.  Board member Kathleen Connell said that sellers of suspicious properties “are taking a bath” if they sell now.  “I want to know how [properties are] to be expedited,” she said ... 

As part of the investigation, the Army is partnering with the Naval Research Laboratories to pilot some new technology that could make the process a great deal faster and also less expensive ...  With the new system to be tested, it should be possible to create an electromagnetic pulse over a metal object and listen for the item’s “decay curve” ...  The decay curves on objects found by the devices will be compared with the information in the library, and only the items that match a dangerous substance would have to be excavated ...  If the experimental devices correctly identify the objects that are potentially dangerous on the five properties, the new system will be used on the rest of the 100 properties where it is thought there might be dangerous buried materials.

Northwest Current
May 18, 2016
Alex Zahl, USACE:  The Metal Mapper has been used at other sites with open land for the last 10-15 years.  The device is fairly large and needs a tractor to move it around a property, which is not practical for a landscaped Spring Valley property.  However, in the last 5 years, the Navy, who are considered DoD experts in finding ordnance items, has developed a smaller version of the Metal Mapper.  This instrument is called the Time-Domain Electromagnetic Multi-sensor Towed Array Detection System (TEMTADS).  At roughly 2 feet by 2 feet, the TEMTADS is pushed on a cart, making it more maneuverable and able to fit in smaller areas ... The Man Portable Vector (MPV) is another handheld unit, about 15 inches in diameter.  The MPV is still in its developmental phase and only one exists at this time.  The Navy has a prototype of the MPV and a TEMTADS. USACE has partnered with the Navy to conduct a Pilot Project in Spring Valley.
Spring Valley RAB 
Meeting Minutes
March 8, 2016 (pg. 9)

Apr 19, 2016

6-Year ATSDR 'Health Evaluation' Released for Public Comment

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released their "Health Consultation Report - An Exposure and Health Effects Evaluation of Former Workers and Residents to Chemical Contamination at 4825 Glenbrook Road, Washington, D.C." today.  In 2010, the Corps of Engineers asked ATSDR ... to develop the report, which evaluated past exposure scenarios at the 4825 Glenbrook Road property, specifically for two groups: construction and other workers who developed the property (1992-1993), and the family who lived at the residence from 1993 until 1999.  ATSDR is holding a public comment period to gather feedback from the public regarding their evaluation, starting today and closing on June 20, 2016.  Experts from ATSDR are currently scheduled to attend the regularly scheduled Spring Valley Restoration Advisory Board meeting, on Tuesday, May 10, 2016 at 7 PM, to discuss the report and receive feedback from the public.
Announcement
Spring Valley FUDS
Community Outreach Team
April 19, 2016

 
Conclusion 1: Some construction workers likely experienced harmful short-term (or acute) health effects while working at the property because of exposure to arsenic, CWAs (such as lewisite and sulfur mustard), and other chemicals. Workers, especially those who worked on the property for a year or more, may have an increased cancer risk ... Workers who had intensive soil contact and repeated exposures are more likely to have experienced harmful health effects ... In May 1992, several construction workers were reportedly overcome during soil excavation activities at 4825 Glenbrook Road and required emergency care for respiratory problems. Transcripts of interviews with workers indicate exposure to chemicals during home construction in 1992 and 1993. Based on a medical officer evaluation of these transcripts, exposure to arsenic, arsenicals, irritants, and possibly sulfur mustard was likely ... However, this cancer risk estimate is based on soil arsenic levels remaining on the property after it was developed and is the minimum increased cancer risk.

Conclusion 2: Except for arsenic in soil, insufficient past exposure information is available to determine if former residents of 4825 Glenbrook Road had (or have) harmful health effects related to exposures ... Without data for all possible past exposures, particularly indoor air and dust ... ATSDR is unable to speculate on any possible causal relationship between the former residents’ reported health conditions and their potential exposures while residing at 4825 Glenbrook Road ... ATSDR will attempt to notify former workers and residents about their potential for past exposure to chemicals at this site and share this health consultation with them. If former workers or former residents have experienced symptoms they feel are related to past potential environmental exposures at this property, their healthcare providers can contact ATSDR for further assistance.
ATSDR

 
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