Testimony: Spring Valley

Global Green USA testified before the Washington D.C. City Council on May 11, 2009 regarding the cleanup of dumped chemical weapons in Northwest Washington, an area known as “Spring Valley.”  Ward 3 Council Member Mary Cheh, Chairperson of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, questioned fourteen witnesses on public health and environmental impacts from the post-World War I burial of chemical weapons, agents, and other toxic materials in the 661-acre area in Northwest Washington. The cleanup, managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and overseen by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the D.C. Department of the Environment, has been ongoing since 1993 when a chemical weapons burial site was discovered in a private backyard.  The toxic dump site, which was not public knowledge until 1993, resulted from the shutdown after World War I of the American University Experimental Station which developed chemical weapons and agents.

Dr. Paul Walker, Director of the Security and Sustainability Program of Global Green USA, testified that the lessons learned from this high-toxic waste and weapons dump site “…will provide a model for all future such burial sites, of which there are hundreds in the U.S. alone.  It is therefore important that the Spring Valley cleanup be done correctly and thoroughly; it not, mistakes could reverberate throughout future efforts.”

The following individuals testified: Colonel Peter W. Mueller, Commander, Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Dan Nobel, USACE; Todd Beckwith, USACE; Shawn Garvin, Senior State and Congressional Liaison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Steven Hirsch, Senior Remedial Project Manager, US EPA; Jim Sweeney, District Department of the Environment; Alex Bako, DDOE; Dr. Peter deFur, Science Task Force, Spring Valley Restoration Advisory Board; Dr. Paul Walker, Global Green USA; Anila Jacob, Environmental Working Group; Tom Smith, ANC Commissioner; Nan Wells, ANC Commissioner; Kent Slowinski, Environmental Health Group; and Buzz Bailey, Garvey, Schubert, & Barer.

Walker, among other recommendations, proposed additional funding for “non-stockpile chemical weapons destruction and remediation programs.”  “As we eliminate our chemical weapons stockpiles, now 60% destroyed, more funds need to be shifted to the evaluation and cleanup of dump sites such as Spring Valley and of the hundreds of thousands of tons of chemical weapons dumped at sea.”  He also proposed a new epidemiological study of disease prevalence and disease clusters, as recommended in a preliminary health scoping study done by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2007, in order to shed light on “environmental and public health impacts of chemical weapons dumping in Spring Valley.”

The City Council hearing can be viewed online.

Download Paul Walker's testimony.