RACHEL DEVOR/THE EAGLE
The Army Corps of Engineers is announcing its next move in the decades-long process to clean up WWI munitions: razing a home near AU’s main campus.
At a public meeting on Oct. 26, the Army Corps formally presented its plan to remove chemical materials deemed unsafe from the AU-owned property 4825 Glenbrook Rd., adjacent to the Kreeger building parking lot.
The proposed plan, which AU endorses, is to demolish the unoccupied house on the property, excavate much of the yard and restore the lot to residential standards.
The Army Corps has taken a “very aggressive approach to this property,” said Col. David Anderson, commander of the Spring Valley project.
“This has become a notorious address in Spring Valley,” Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-DC, said, one that is about to be “wiped off the face of the map.”
Norton has organized congressional hearings about the contamination and continues to monitor the Army Corps’ progress.
At a cost of more than $13 million, demolishing the house is the most expensive option presented by the Army Corps, but is also the most thorough option.
Holmes said she has never found it difficult to rally the government funding necessary for the Spring Valley cleanup.
“The contamination issue … is a non-partisan issue if ever there was one,” she said. “I’ve never had any concern about the funding for this project.”
Jill Stern, a resident of the 4800 block of Glenbrook Road, said she and her neighbors are in favor of the demolition, but just want it done quickly.
After the Army Corps allows several more weeks for public comments, the final draft of the plan will be submitted in December, and cleanup will begin next summer.
Munitions, laboratory glassware and tons of contaminated soil have already been removed from the site, but the Army Corps believes there is more to be found along the sides of the home’s foundation.
Army Corps has been excavating a WWI chemical munitions burial pit beneath the property since 2007, until several jugs containing arsenic trichloride, a toxic gas, were found in March 2010, The Eagle previously reported.
The property used to be the AU president’s house until the 1980s, when it was moved down the street.
President Kerwin currently lives at 4835 Glenbrook Road, next door to the project site, but Army Corps Project Manager Brenda Barber said there will be no risks to his health or safety during the demolition.
AU Chief of Staff David Taylor said Kerwin isn’t concerned about the plan.
“This has been a situation we’ve been dealing with for years,” he said, “and this is just the next step.”
Correction 11/2/11 2:30 am: The photo caption previously stated that the house is at 482 Glenbrook Road, the address is actually 4825 Glenbrook Road.