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DC land used as a chemical weapons testing site during World War I is now up for sale

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers completed a 20-year-long cleanup effort of the site on Glenbrook Road Northwest last year.
Credit: Library of Congress
American University Experiment Station, Washington, D.C., 1917. (Library of Congress photo)

WASHINGTON — A vacant lot in Northwest D.C., used as a chemical weapons testing site back in 1917, is now up for sale following a decades-long cleanup effort by the U.S. Army Corps. of Engineers (USACE). 

The cleanup of 4825 Glenbrook Road, also known as the Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site (FUDS)  was completed in November 2021 by the USACE and partnering agencies. 

“This exemplary cross-functional team was tasked to clean up and restore a residential property containing one of the most unique burials of discarded World War I experimental chemical warfare agents known in the U.S.,” said Baltimore District Commander Col. Estee Pinchasin said in a statement last year. “Make no mistake - during the war; there was no military research more urgent or secret than what took place in this corner of the District.”

During World War I, the property was part of a larger area known as the American University Experiment Station (AUES), where the U.S. government researched and tested chemical agents, equipment, and munitions. From 1917 to 1918, approximately 1,500 chemists, scientists, and soldiers assembled at AUES to research and develop offensive and defensive capabilities in chemical warfare. 

Credit: Library of Congress
American University Experiment Station, Washington, D.C., 1917. (Library of Congress photo)

When the war ended in 1918, disposal pits and trenches were dug and filled with unwanted and dangerous chemicals and materials and covered over, a standard practice at the time, USACE spokesperson Cynthia Mitchell said in a press release.

That waste material was rediscovered in 1993, kicking off the environmental restoration program that was completed last year. By the conclusion of the project at Glenbrook Road, the team had remediated, removed, or recovered 556 munition items (23 of them filled with chemical agents), 2,139 pounds of laboratory debris, 53 intact and sealed glass containers of chemical agent, and 7,500 tons of contaminated soil, according to USACE.

Now, the 13,806-square-foot plot of land is up for sale for $1,295,000, according to real estate website Redfin.

"Great opportunity to get a large lot in sought-after Spring Valley," the website says.

For more information on the Spring Valley FUDS, click here.  

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