|Corps Keeps Committment to Norton to Reveal Munitions Uncovered In Spring Valley (12/1/09)|
Corps Keeps Commitment to Norton to Reveal Munitions Uncovered in Years of Clean-Up in Spring Valley
December 1, 2009
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) met yesterday with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Commander David Anderson in her office to discuss the Corps Draft Engineering Evaluation/Cost Analysis document released yesterday. The document includes, for the first time, the list of chemical warfare materials recovered since digging began in 1993. Norton insisted on the release of the names of the material at a June congressional hearing on the Spring Valley cleanup after she was told that security considerations prevented publication. She asked Corps witnesses to seek clearance, and today information concerning the munitions can be found on the U.S. Army Corps' Baltimore District website at http://www.nab.usace.army.mil/projects/WashingtonDC/springvalley.htm. On the list are the three chemicals that were found, 75 mm Arsine projectiles, a 75 mm Mustard gas projectile, and a 75 mm Lewisite projectile, among other projectiles and shrapnel.
Norton has insisted on transparency and accountability and has received a commitment from the Corps to remain in Spring Valley until a complete clean-up is confirmed.
The release of the Cost Analysis document will be followed by the destruction "on-site by detonation of explosives and by chemical neutralization within an [Explosive Destructive System]," according to the document. The treatment process is conducted within a sealed containment vessel, and secondary containment is ensured through use of an environmental enclosure and vapor containment using air filtration. The Corps says it is safer to destroy the munitions on site than to transport them as is. The public has 30 days to respond following today's publication.
For 16 years the Corps has been cleaning areas in the northwest Spring Valley neighborhood where World War I toxic munitions were buried by the Army and accidentally uncovered by residents and workers decades later. Norton, who secured her third congressional hearings on Spring Valley, has continued to work with the Army Corps and the Spring Valley community. Norton also visited Spring Valley in August after a toxic Mustard agent was discovered at one of the work sites, and in September she held a community town hall meeting in the area with residents and the agencies responsible for the cleanup, including the Corps, the Environmental Protection Agency, D.C. Department of the Environment, and D.C. City Council member, Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3).
Since the last hearing, Norton said that the Corps "has responded well in keeping the community and my office informed." Col. Anderson told Norton that the Corps will destroy excavated weapons on-site at the Corps facility in Spring Valley, at a date this spring to be determined, after the 30-day public comment period. The Corps will respond to every question and comment that it receives during the comment period.