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isting obligation, once the Federal Government has accepted responsibility for the contamination, to accept responsibility for the health effect. I mean, it follows like night and day, and we just have to make sure that the logic is understood.
As to the health—what the city is doing now to try to scramble to get the personnel and to get the money, my own sense is that we simply must do it fast, do the health survey fast, and make sure that it is done independently. And we may not be able to wait until the District is able to hire all of the independent experts it should. And what I'd like the District to help me do is to figure out what is the fastest way to get an independent health survey initiated immediately.
Now, I have a question for the District. Mrs. Morella asked about other communities that may have been involved, and we have heard about other communities, and I indicated in my opening statement that I did not believe that the Federal Government went like a laser beam to American University and might not have done damage elsewhere.
In your testimony we heard that at least there is some reason to look at at least three other areas: Camp Simms, some areas near UDC that were vaguely named, and areas near Catholic University. Now, there is no need to unduly panic any other community, and one of the ways to keep from panicking a community is to systematically look at what has happened so that people know that there's no reason to be panicked.
I would like you to describe what is being done now, exactly what is the nature of the effort now at Camp Simms in which you're about to do a whole big number, a whole big project that's been outstanding for years-Camp Simms, the area near UDC, and Catholic University-what is being done and who is doing it?
Mr. GORDON. Go ahead, Richard.
Dr. ALBRIGHT. I'll respond to that. Camp Simms, first of all, we got in that site when the Federal parkland was being remediated. We had a partnering effort with the Corps and the EPA. I believe we successfully remediated the Federal park there called Oxen Run Park. We removed 36 ordnance items out of that site. That was the target area.
Ms. NORTON. When was that done? When were those ordnances removed?
Dr. ALBRIGHT. From 1995 on. In fact, the first week I came to work on this project I was out there. We removed substantial quantities of lead from the backstop areas for the small arms ranges out there; and areas that we could not remove the lead, we covered up in such a way that children can no longer be exposed.
The other portion at Camp Simms is owned by the District of Columbia government. There are some reported burials there. That work was done before the District was involved with the project. We were not satisfied with the work that was done. We've gotten back to the Corps of Engineers on that. We have a good partnering relationship with them. In the past 2 months they have reanalyzed the data from the metal detectors that were used over that area. We have located and come to agreement on 13 more potential areas of munition burials up there, and talks are underway now as to try to excavate those areas.
With respect to UDC, that was formerly the Harry Diamond Fuse Laboratory where, among other things, our proximity fuse, which was very effective in World War II, was developed. We know that there were many contaminants up in that area, and ordnance was found up there when they built the engineering building at UDC. We are going to be looking at that site. EPA has promised to fund the preliminary assessment for that site. I believe that preliminary assessment has already been done in draft form. We have not seen it yet. We expect it within a week or two. From that document, we will then go on to do whatever soil sampling magnetometer work, metal detector work is necessary.
Catholic University was a small research spin-offsite from American University. Two very toxic chemical warfare agents were developed there, lewisite and ricin. They had approximately 35 chemists working there. From their reports we suspected that there may be some contaminants left. Anecdotally, we've been told that jugs of chemical warfare material were left in the chemistry building when the site was closed. These were found some number of years later. They were then buried near the chemistry building up there. A number of years later again, putting a walkway through, they hit one of the jugs with a pick-ax while digging a foundation.
We have been unable to get any more information on that site. But there's a dump site already near there. We have already done some preliminary aerial photo recon work on that site, and we'll be looking to take some soil samples in that area as well.
Ms. NORTON. Are these all the areas that could conceivably have had munitions dumped?
Dr. ALBRIGHT. Yes. We have approximately 33 sites in the District of Columbia that we're looking at. According to the Department of Defense, the District of Columbia ranks 10th among all States for potential buried ordnance sites, not necessarily in any way the amount of ordnance, but rather just purely numbers of sites. Our site might be 30 rounds. Some other State's site may be 3,000 rounds, but in numbers of sites we rank 10th among all States.
Ms. NORTON. I think the Chair also asked about water. I do know that over and over again, we're told that the District of Columbia has one of the highest cancer rates in the country. It always ranks way above anything anyone would expect. Could you tell me, I want to know first what is being done, specifically what is being done we were told something was being done
to look at the water supply and whether you think so many areas where buried munitions are located might have contributed to a higher rate of cancer in the District of Columbia that we see here than in other places.
Dr. WALKS. I think we absolutely have those concerns in a State that is 70 square miles and ranks 10th in States with respect to number of sites. That means we have probably a lot more sites per square mile than maybe any other place. We do have a high cancer rate. We have a cancer registry. That's a tremendous step in the right direction with respect
to our ability to track it. But as a physician, you don't want to track cancer. It means that you're waiting until people are ill and then identifying a level of illness.
We want to protect health. The Mayor's goal is to make the District the healthiest city in America. We share that mission, we share that vision. And the extent of the work that Dr. Albright has outlined is, I think, evidence of that. We do have to stretch our resources, but that's OK. We will stretch and do whatever we can to identify potential health hazards in the District and mitigate those health hazards. Part of our purpose today is to impress upon you that commitment and ask for your support with respect to additional resources, but we
Ms. NORTON. Dr. Walks, what is being done on the water supply right now with respect to effects of these munitions around the District of Columbia?
Dr. WALKS. We actually do check groundwater, and we check groundwater contamination in a lot of different areas for a lot of different chemicals. Though we don't use groundwater, we're exposed to it and we're exposed to soil. That's why when we talk about collecting samples, we talk about comprehensive sampling collection, doing split samples. We can't afford to trust other people to do the work that we have to do in the District to keep District residents safe. It's our responsibility, and we want the ability and the resources to do those split samples and be able to look District residents in the eye and tell them that they're safe in their homes.
Ms. NORTON. Dr. Gordon.
Mr. GORDON. Yes. As Dr. Walks has indicated, we have no evidence, based on the review of drinking water data, that there's any contamination levels of our drinking water with arsenic, none whatsoever.
We have requested that the Corps of Engineers do groundwater testing for us to determine if there are concentrations of arsenic in our groundwater. One would say, why do you want to test the groundwater, because we don't drink the groundwater? We never know at what point in time we're going to have to access that groundwater. If we had a bioterrorist attack and it affected our drinking water system, we may have to rely on our groundwater.
So, therefore, we've requested to the Baltimore District that in the Spring Valley area we test the groundwater to determine if in fact it is contaminated, and we're waiting for a response from the Corps. But there is no evidence and I want to repeat, no evidence—whatsoever of our drinking water being contaminated with arsenic.
Ms. NORTON. It's very important for the community to understand that.
Mr. Miller, could I ask you whether or not this very desirable neighborhood, as you called it, with very high property values, meaning you pay a lot of taxes to the District of Columbia and to the Federal Government—may I ask whether or not property values have been affected by this controversy?
Mr. MILLER. Based on the real estate data that I've been able to collect from the Multiple Regional Information System, which is the warehouse of real estate sales in Spring Valley, the answer is no. Property values have gone up, and gone up significantly in the last 5 years.
Ms. NORTON. That's very good news.
Finally, Mr. Harrop, you made a statement that I wish you would explain when you were assessing this controversy. You indicated that American University may have been complicit along with the Federal agencies. I note that American University has sued, which doesn't tell us all we need to know, of course. But what made you think that American University has been-may have been, sorry-complicit?
Mr. HARROP. Well, under the Superfund legislation, the owners or operators of property which may have possible contamination are required to report that formally to EPA, which triggers an articulated series of remedial actions.
In 1986, the American University as well as the Army Corps of Engineers clearly knew that, because they had information from their historical survey of the records and their review of overhead photography which showed that there was this potential problem.
And yet they decided not to report it—as the law required them toto the EPA. That is what I meant by complicit.
Ms. NORTON. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Mrs. MORELLA. I want to thank the panel. We've kept you for a long time. You have been great in terms of telling us about the actions. I reiterate that we do want to work with you so that we recognize the urgency and come about with some resolve for the safety and security of the citizenry. And so we thank you. Thank you very much for being with us, Dr. Walks, Mr. Gordon, Dr. Albright, Dr. Walker, Ms. Shapley, Mr. Harrop, and Mr. Miller. Thank you.
So, now the second panel. We will not spend quite as much time with the second panel. We have two people who will be presenting: Thomas Voltaggio, the Acting Regional Administrator, the Environmental Protection Agency, Region III; and Rear Admiral Robert Williams, Director of the Division of Health Assessment and Consultation, the Agency for Toxic Substances/Disease Registry.
Before you sit down, I'm going to have you stand to be sworn in. Mr. Voltaggio and Admiral Williams, if you'll raise your right hands.
Mrs. MORELLA. Thank you for your affirmative responses. We'll now commence.
Well, Admiral Williams, since you are sitting to my left, the right of the audience, would you like to begin, then?
STATEMENTS OF REAR ADMIRAL ROBERT WILLIAMS, DIREC
TOR, DIVISION OF HEALTH ASSESSMENT AND CONSULTATION, AGENCY FOR TOXIC SUBSTANCES AND DISEASE REGISTRY; AND THOMAS C. VOLTAGGIO, ACTING REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY REGION III
Admiral WILLIAMS. Thank you. Good morning, Madam Chairwoman and members of the subcommittee, I am Bob Williams, the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, and I thank you for this opportunity to provide you with testimony on the activities of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), at the Child Development Center at the American University, a day care facility.
ATSDR is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the lead public health agency responsible for implementing the health-related provisions of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation,
Compensation, and Liability Act [CERCLA). ATSDR's mission is to prevent exposure and adverse health effects and diminished quality of life associated with exposure to hazardous substances from waste sites, unplanned releases, and other sources of pollution present in the environment.
On January 18, 2001, ATSDR participated in a conference call with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Army, and the District of Columbia Department of Health. The Army indicated that elevated concentrations of arsenic were detected in surface soil samples recently collected from the playground of the Child Development Center at American University, which I will call AU-CDC. Parents of children attending the day care facility were notified of this finding, and they expressed concern for the health of their children. The Department of Health asked ATSDR for assistance in addressing the parents' concerns.
ATSDR reviewed the request as we would a proposal for the Agency to conduct an exposure investigation. An exposure investigation is one approach that the Agency uses to better characterize potential exposures to hazardous substances, generally through biomedical testing. The request was evaluated against ATSDR's criteria for conducting an EI, which include the following: One, can an exposure population be identified?
Two, does a data gap exist that affects the ability to interpret whether or not a health hazard exists?
Three, can the data gap be addressed by an EI?
And, four, how would the results of an El impact public health decisionmaking.
ATSDR determined that the request met the Agency's criteria for conducting an EI, and, accordingly, agreed to conduct an El for the children currently attending AU-CDČ. In addition, ATSDR agreed to include the adult staff at the AU-CDC in its EI.
Officials at American University had relocated the AU-CDC to another location on campus as soon as the contamination was brought to their attention. Therefore, children and AU-CDC staff had no known current exposure to arsenic at the time of the EI request. After a person is exposed to arsenic, the arsenic is rapidly metabolized and excreted in the urine within a few days. Because the children had no known recent exposure to arsenic, it would not be useful to test their urine samples for arsenic.
Arsenic is deposited in the hair root as the hair grows. Therefore, measuring the arsenic concentration in a length of hair provides an indication of arsenic exposure over the life of the hair. ATSDR collected 2-inch lengths of hair from the EI participants, which corresponds to approximately 5 months' of hair growth.
With the assistance of the Department of Health and AU-CDC staff, written informed-consent forms were signed by parents or guardians of the children. The children ranged from 242 through 542 years of age. About half of the children that attended AU-CDC for 7 months or less; the remainder had attended for a year or