Jun 30, 2017

Worker Recants Taking Chemical Bottle from 4835 Glenbrook Road

The Fry family (father and two sons) attended the May RAB and made some significant claims about their recollections of their activities at 4825 Glenbrook Road and 4835 Glenbrook Road during the construction of the 2 properties.  During and after the meeting, James Fry (the father) indicated he had taken a liter bottle of liquid from 4835 Glenbrook Road and kept the bottle in a safety deposit box in West Virginia ... That afternoon [May 17], the USACE District Engineer (DE) contacted the father and the son.  During the conversation with the USACE DE, James Fry admitted that he lied about the bottle to see if he could get USACE’s attention ...  The USACE DE informed the FBI of the details of his call with James Fry.  The FBI ran background checks on James Fry and decided to close the file unless additional information was received.  EPA Region III noted that the case was handled by EPA’s criminal enforcement division

The concern was if there was a bottle with chemical agent in a safe deposit box in a bank somewhere.  Even though the bottle may have been there for 20 years, it is not known if the bottle was leaking or not, or if the bottle may leak in the future.  USACE has significant concerns about the credibility of this family now ... The areas of debris on 4835 Glenbrook Road that the Fry family is recalling are now under the poured basement floor and in the crawlspace.  In order to even investigate the Fry family’s potential claims the process of investigation would significantly damage the home ... P. Chrostowski, CPF Associates, commented that ... American University would like the issue to be resolved definitively, but he believed that the issue is similar to that of the Public Safety Building where there may be something underneath the house, but as long as it is undisturbed it is not a hazard to anyone. 
Spring Valley FUDS
Partnering Meeting minutes
June 13, 2017 (pgs. 4 - 7)

Tom Smith: If you went back to [the workers] with a formal invitation from the RAB, expressing our interest in their participation in a site visit and coming to the RAB meeting to share information with us, do you think that they would not do that?  Do you think their reluctance to commit to a site visit could be because it is USACE making the invitation?

Dan Noble explained that he did not know the reason.  His concerns are that he does not know what USACE could do with the information the Fry family might provide, and the veracity of what the Fry family says, based on what has happened since the May RAB meeting.

Smith: But I think that is something you judge after you hear it.  I hear the concern about the bottle.  I also can understand, if you are telling me that I am going to have the FBI down my back, I am going to tell you that I do not have it anymore ... There has been so much talk over the years about what the workers knew or did not know.  What we are hearing, from talking to a couple real estate agents over the weekend, is that housing prices in the neighborhood are being depressed.  When I ask “why,” I am told it is because of the munitions issue.  When I say “why now, given that this has been an issue for many, many years and has not really had the impact,” what I am being told is the perception out there is that it is starting back up again ... 

Mary Douglas: A neighbor, who seems pretty knowledgeable and is starting a magazine about this area, said that prices are depressed about 10% below what they would be.  I think the one reason that they may be somewhat depressed in some areas is because of the 100 house examination for munitions ... I went on this website called D.C. Urban Moms where there was a lot of hysterical talk [sic] by these young mothers about how they would never buy in Spring Valley.   
Spring Valley RAB
Summary of Conference Call
June 15, 2017 (pgs. 4 - 10)

Jun 1, 2017

Demolition of Public Safety Building Will Begin in June

The Public Safety Building, located on the south end of campus behind Anderson and Letts Halls, will be demolished this month, according to memos released by AU officials ... David Dower, the University’s assistant vice president of planning and project management, wrote in a May 15 memo that the demolition will begin on or about June 1 ... A 2015 report released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) revealed that there are likely residual World War I munitions buried beneath the Public Safety building.  During World War I, AU was used as a testing site for military weapons, including ammunition and chemical weapons.  Following the war, land owned by the University was used to bury hazardous materials and remaining munitions, The Eagle previously reported ... Kelly Alexander, AU’s director of public relations, said the University notified ACE in May 2016 that it intended to demolish the building in conjunction with the opening of East Campus and wanted ACE to finish its remediation work required for the area. 
“The Army Corps allocated funds in its current budget for the [building’s] remediation work and is in the process of developing the work and safety plans for this project,” Alexander said in an email ... Following the demolition, Dower wrote in his May 15 memo that AU expects ACE to conduct additional remediation activities in the area during the fall 2017 semester ... “Once they get to the foundation, we would plan to have our crews carry out the rest of the removal,” [ACE communications official Chris] Gardner said.  “Once the foundation is removed, we would work to excavate a great deal of the material below the foundation as we work to remove debris.  Our crews will also sample the soil, testing for any potential contaminants that could stem from past military activity and removing any contaminated soils.”  The timeframe for the removal project depends on what ACE encounters at the site, Gardner said.
Haley Samsel
The Eagle
June 1, 2017
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