WTF? Spring Valley As Dumpster For Chemical Weapon Agents During WWI?

Kamran Abdi
I wonder how many people in DC know that one of the most prestige residential area of our city, Spring Valley used to be a major dumpster for Chemical weapon agents during the World War I by our Army. The U.S. Army might have stumbled on a fourth site in the area.

Just this week, Army Corps of Engineers workers removed smoking glassware believed to be tainted with arsenic trichloride — an ingredient used in lewisite blister agent — from a dig site in the city’s Spring Valley neighborhood. The find prompted the Army to halt digging in the area this week.

The finding would mark the first recovery of arsenic trichloride during remediation of the area once used for development and testing of chemical warfare materials.

I am curious if the agents were aired in the outside environment at anytime.

In addition, personnel found a container at the site holding mustard agent.

The Army Corps of Engineers was set as early as yesterday to dispose of a number of chemical rounds in the area.

I also wonder how all this will be effecting the hosing market in the area.

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @

15 Responses to WTF? Spring Valley As Dumpster For Chemical Weapon Agents During WWI?

  1. John Quinter says:

    Where have you been? This has been on-going for at least the last 20 years. There have been several
    series in the Post over the years as well as TV coverage – just old news now.

    • Kamaran Abdi says:

      Well, Good Question John. I have been living and working in DC area since 2005. So, this was pretty new to me. So, Wow! 20 years! how come the area is still populated with people? Not just people. High class people in that area.

  2. Gary Honig says:

    This is an old story here in DC. Back in the 1940’s going out Massachusetts Ave the land got pretty rural. It was farmland and considered “way out there in the boondocks” Over the years they keep bumping into mustard gas bombs and stuff, much to the consternation of the upper class homeowners who live there.

  3. Gary Honig says:

    The Army used the area as a secret dump site and then forgot about it. Decades later as sprawl creeped out Mass Ave. they wouldn’t admit that it had been a dumping ground for munitions. it took a fair amount of legal wrangling for them to come clean and start to clean up the joint. In a lot of cases the munitions were live and deadly, gas and stuff. The Army just never figured people would live “way out there”

  4. As a native to the area, I concur with Gary. This is old news that has made newspaper headlines numerous times as the munitions are “found” usually, though not always, by construction workers. Given that burial was considered safe disposal, the real question is “are there anymore hazardous dump sites, where are they, and what do we think they contain?” Its a question for all, not just DoD.

  5. Kelsey says:

    This is definitely old news. They’ve been digging up old munitions in that area for years. It’s prestigious to live in because, well, rich people live there. Until someone builds a new neighborhood for those same folks to live in, that has the same reputation, they’ll likely continue to live there. They can afford to have the munitions taken care of, so they have little motivation to move.

    • Ben says:

      The old news is that arsenic and mustard compounds lay hidden in leaking canisters causing at the very least 200 rare cancers, the new news is that they experimented without mentioning,over 100 wildly exotic chemical weapons that they couldn’t test for if they even tried.

  6. Our dear friend, Charlie Bermpohl, who just passed away last month was in the midst of writing a book about Spring Valley and the dumpsite. Over the past several years he has done a tremendous amount of research on the subject and has linked (with real medical support and research) many ailments of the residents in Spring Valley to the munitions dumps, including Barbara Bush’s Graves disease! Stay tuned for the book – it may take a while but his wife, Barbara will be looking for a writer to finish Charlie’s work as co-author. see: Wash Post:

  7. For more information on remediation efforts at the Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site, please see: .
    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers/Baltimore District has oversight responsibility for this project. Public meetings of the Restoration Advisory Board are held on the second Tuesday of every month at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 5150 Macomb Street, NW.

  8. Marya –

    Thanks for the link. Very useful information to be found there.

  9. Elias,

    As people have alluded to DC was very different 65 years ago with regards to development (like it has grown some) and further the demographics were very different with respect to where people lived and what was considered the high end of DC and the low end of DC. I would suggest if you are going to blog on DC-centric topics and particularly the historical ones you get more up to speed on the changes of DC went through from its founding up until today.

  10. Elias,

    Let me apologize. It was a long night drafting something that needed to be done ASAP and I was interested in your post and responded in a snarky manner. I apologize for that. Now that I have had some sleep, I think your blog is pretty interesting.


  11. Elias & Chris –

    Well played by both of you. The civility of DC Connections members and the quality of the discourse here make discussions so informative, and it’s good know you guys feel the same way.



    • Elias Shams says:

      Thanks Dave. That is why I called the blog “Awesome DC”. If you check out the About section of the blog, you will see my rational for the name Awesome DC is right along what you just said 🙂

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