House Built on Chemical Weapons Site Torn Down

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Crews demolished a house in an upscale neighborhood in NW Washington Thursday. There was nothing wrong with the house itself. As Derrick Ward reports, the Army Corps of Engineers believes it is the last of the sites where potentially harmful remnants of past military weapons experiments remain buried.

    Demolition began on a large house in northwest D.C. Thursday because the land it sits on was used to test chemical weapons about 100 years ago.

    The Army Corps of Engineers believes the Spring Valley property is the last of the sites where potentially harmful remnants of past military weapons experiments remain buried. Their primary concern is for high levels of arsenic in the ground.

    By all appearances, the four-bedroom home at 4825 Glenbrook Road was a perfectly good house. But its ground has already yielded buried waste.

    "More than 500 munitions items, 400 pounds of laboratory glassware and more than 100 tons of contaminated soil were recovered and safely removed from this site," said Dave Morrow of the Army Corp of engineers.

    Engineers believe the back porch of the house sat on a spot soldiers called Hades, a15-foot pit where they dumped the vials and containers that had held the chemical components of that era's weapons of mass destruction.

    The demolition is expected to take two to three weeks, and the Army Corps of Engineers said the land should be suitable to build upon, in another year and a half.

    The house, built in the 1990s and last lived in 12 years ago, is owned by American University.