I recently notified the campus that the Army Corps of Engineers is entering the final phase of environmental investigations and cleanup activities on our campus. We have just learned that during the week of June 21, the Corps will begin excavating an area known as Lot 18, which is behind the Hamilton, Kreeger, Rockwood, Public Safety, and Financial Aid buildings.
In coordination with the D.C. Department of Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps will conduct a thorough search to ensure that all World War I materials are found and removed from the campus. When this work is finished, the Corps will have completed all planned activities on the AU campus.
As always, during this final phase of the Army Corps project, the top priority will be the health and safety of the entire campus community. The University has coordinated with the Corps, EPA, and the D.C. Department of Health to ensure that appropriate safety measures and procedures are in place. Additionally, AU has retained an independent expert to review site data and make additional safety recommendations. Information sessions and shelter-in-place training have been conducted for University staff within the Lot 18 area. We are confident that the health and safety of the campus community will be protected during this activity, just as it has been when the Corps worked in other areas of our campus over the past several years.
At 12 noon Wednesday, June 16, the Corps will test a siren that would be activated in the event of an excavation emergency. The one-minute siren test will begin with a 30-second “wail” sound, similar to a fire engine or civil defense siren, which notifies those in adjacent buildings to begin shelter-in-place procedures. The “wail” will be followed by a 30-second steady tone, which is the “all clear” indicating it is safe to resume normal activities. (In an actual emergency, the “wail” would last up to three minutes, repeated every 15 minutes). The siren will be tested periodically, probably on the first Friday of each month. We will provide information about future tests.
As an added safety measure, the Corps will also test an automated “ring-down” system that provides information to senior AU personnel, department supervisors, and building supervisors via e-mail and phone. This system provides ongoing communication to nearby building occupants.
On Thursday morning, June 17, the Army Corps will host a site visit for invited guests and government officials. A second site visit and tour of operations is scheduled for invited AU personnel and other guests on Thursday evening, June 17 at 6:30 p.m.
The entire Lot 18 operation is likely to last 12 to 18 months. There may be periods of interruption due to the Corps’ funding constraints, which they are working to overcome.
I will provide progress reports during this last phase of the Corps’ project on our campus. If you have specific questions, please call 202-885-2020.