February 28, 2022
TO: American University Community
FROM: Dan Nichols, Assistant Vice President, Risk, Safety and Transportation
SUBJECT: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Project Update
American University is committed to keeping our community informed on the status of the remediation efforts being performed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) within the boundaries of the Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site (SVFUDS) and, specifically, work that involves AU property.
The office of Risk Management serves as the AU liaison to USACE and works closely and collaboratively with the USACE project leaders, represents AU at monthly SVFUDS project meetings, and receives regular project updates. The primary concern throughout this process remains the health and safety of our community.
Since many community members may not be familiar with the SVFUDS project, the following is a brief history:
The project history goes back to 1917-1918, when over 661 acres in northwest Washington, including the AU campus, were used by the U.S. government and the U.S. Army to support the war effort as a site to develop and test chemical agents, weapons, and munitions. At that time, this area was called the American University Experimental Station (AUES). In the early 1990s, in an adjacent Spring Valley neighborhood, the discovery of materials left over from that research and testing resulted in the USACE returning to the area to conduct extensive environmental testing and cleanup operations. The USACE has been sampling, testing, and when necessary, removing and replacing soil throughout the Spring Valley area, to include our campus, as part of the SVFUDS project.
Over the past 25 years, AU has been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and their partners from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; the D.C. Department of Health; the D.C. Department of Energy and Environment, and others to address these issues in a public process designed to ensure the health and safety of our campus and the surrounding community.
Recent remedial actions focused on two locations. One is an off-campus residential property and an adjacent lot owned by AU at 4825 and 4835 Glenbrook Road. The other location is on the south side of campus where the former Public Safety Building once stood.
Testing and remediation processes by the USACE and its regulatory partners have concluded at the Glenbrook Road properties and the university has received a status letter indicating the properties are safe for residential use. This project is closed.
Former Public Safety Building
The former Public Safety Building, which stood on the south side of campus near Fletcher Gate, was demolished in 2017 when University Safety and Security Services were relocated to the Don Meyers Technology and Innovation Building. Previous USACE activities in this area confirmed the presence of some AUES related glassware and contaminated soil. With the building removed from the site, USACE tested the underlying soil, removed suspect soil, and replaced it with clean fill. Further investigation of the surrounding hillside of the former PSB site remains inactive while contract details for further remediation work are finalized. The work at this site is expected to resume in 2022. Once the testing and any subsequent remediation efforts are completed, that location will be turned into green space for use by the AU community.
The university keeps our community informed about USACE on-campus activities through a website (https://www.american.edu/usace/) that contains a series of memos, fact sheets, and links to other informative websites.
Please do not hesitate to contact me via Email with specific questions about the USACE SVFUDS project at AU.