Environmental Contamination:

Uncertainties Continue to Affect the Progress of the Spring Valley Cleanup

GAO-02-836T: Published: Jun 26, 2002. Publicly Released: Jun 26, 2002.

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During World War I, the U.S. Army operated a large research facility to develop and test chemical weapons and explosives in the area that became the Spring Valley neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Buried ordnance, discovered there in 1993, led to the designation by the Department of Defense (DOD) of 61 acres as a formerly used defense site. Through fiscal year 2001, DOD had spent over $50 million to identify and remove hazards at the site. The government entities involved have identified and removed a large number of hazards, but the number remaining is unknown. The health risks influencing cleanup activities at Spring Valley are the possibility of injury or death from exploding or leaking ordnance and containers of chemical warfare agents and potential long-term health problems from exposure to arsenic-contaminated soil. As of April 2002, the U.S. Army estimated that the remaining cleanup activities would cost $7.1 million and take 5 years, but these estimates are unreliable. This testimony summarized a June report (See GAO-02-556).

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