Army demolishes American University house at toxic WWI site

Correction: This story has been modified to reflect the proper status of the former homeowner’s lawsuit.

Neal Augenstein,

WASHINGTON – A long-abandoned home built on a World War I chemical dumping ground in the District is now being demolished.

The home at 4825 Glenbrook Rd. in Spring Valley was built atop the former American University Experiment Station, where the United States Army researched and tested chemical agents and weapons. The demolition began Thursday, and the brick home will be leveled to the ground over the next two weeks.

Throughout the past decade, tons of contaminated soil, glassware and ammunition have been recovered and removed by the Army Corp of Engineers at the site.

After crews demolish the home, they plan to erect a pressurized tent structure and remove the concrete basement beneath the home. Scientists have pictures and records that document an untouched site with weapons buried beneath the slab.

Some neighbors are concerned about safety, and at least one has asked to be relocated during the cleanup. The Army Corps says they will monitor air and water in the area to ensure neighborhood safety.

The former owner of the home filed a federal lawsuit, and claimed family members suffered ill effects from the chemicals buried beneath the home.

A federal judge dismissed the suit in 2003, and the U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal.

Earlier, the family invoked a buy-back clause with the developer, and moved from the home. The lawyer for the family told WTOP the ill effects no longer exist.

The property is currently owned by American University.

After removing the home and affected soil, the Army Corps says the land will be returned to American University for unrestricted use.

Watch a video of the demolition:

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