Camille Saum sued the federal government and AU at the same time. “Three-quarters of the homes in our part of the neighborhood had serious illnesses,” says Beth Junium, Saum’s sister. Appointment Phone: 240-762-5130 . It was totally worthless to begin with.”, John Wheeler, another board member, offered: “No one will be satisfied when the Hopkins survey is over.”. So it was a progression, like a domino effect, of things going wrong,” Teleki said. But, Clem Gaines, the spokesman, said, “We should have done a better job of communicating with him.”. Over the past two decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has excavated pockets of their wealthy, tree-lined neighborhood, which was built over the Army’s World War I chemical warfare testing grounds, to analyze possible contamination. In a separate dig, they found a 75-millimeter projectile containing mustard gas six inches deep in the ground. NCCS Hosts First-Ever Virtual Cancer Policy Roundtable – Last week, NCCS hosted its spring Cancer Policy Roundtable event, which convened patient advocates, providers, health care experts, and government agencies to discuss pressing issues in cancer care policy. Then you must prove with scientific evidence that the chemicals caused a specific disease.”. “My father was a doctor, but no one knew what was wrong with me.”. The Army and American University kept the neighborhood’s toxic past secret. The latter’s health effects aren’t completely understood, but it’s known to cause thyroid problems. “The Army assured us it would take care of my family if we were in harm’s way,” she says. The Corps figured out the path of shells and mortars fired from the campus that described a “range fan” starting at the edge of American University and spreading down toward Dalecarlia Reservoir. Tom Loughlin knew that World War I-era bombs had been discovered in Spring Valley the previous year, so he inserted a buy-back clause into his contract, in case toxic waste was found on his property. Get all of Hollywood.com's best Movies lists, news, and more. Soldiers tied animals to stakes in the circles, set off bombs in the center, and saw how quickly the animals died. Ask Camille Saum, who grew up on Sedgwick Street. The “Sedgwick trenches” ran behind his house. No on could understand what it was, he said. What the Army failed to state explicitly was that Dieterich and her neighbors were living yards away from the first military Superfund site in a residential urban area, where the Army is actively searching for bombs and poisonous chemicals. “I was a sickly kid,” she says. Our most popular stories of the week, sent every Saturday. The GW Medical Faculty Associates has locations throughout Washington DC, Maryland, and Virginia. She knew that the campus of American University, just a block away, had been the site of chemical-weapons testing from 1917 to 1920. Over the years, medical technology has drastically changed, but there are still many people who believe in the power of medicinal plants. Participating Telehealth provider - Book a virtual visit today! Prior to his appointment, Dr. Sharpless served as the director of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, a … “I don’t think the government treated me or anyone else well,” says Saum. Nebraska Avenue and Loughboro Road are to its south, Dalecarlia Parkway is to its west, and Massachusetts Avenue is to its northeast. District of Columbiaexternal icon 10. In 2000, when she heard about the chemical-weapons testing at AU and the “Sedgwick trenches,” Saum started telling friends and relatives her diseases might be connected to the chemicals. Anorectal Disorders, Colon and Rectal Surgery, Colon Cancer, ... Washington, DC 20016 map. The uniformed men aim their rifles at an unseen target behind American University. “Nope,” he says. In 2000, the family exercised its buy-back agreement and moved out. Agreements between AU and the Army in 1920 revealed that the Army had buried munitions on or near the campus. Her thyroid swelled. “I should have asked more questions.”. “As it turned out, the soldiers in World War I who had arsenic gas contamination — their feet turned black.”. • • • Twenty years after the first bombs were found, what do we know? The bottles are full of mustard, to be destroyed here. He said he discovered a report by the corps that found more than 20 toxins and heavy metals on his property. It wasn’t until 1993—when workers digging a utility trench not far from Dieterich’s home struck bombs—that Spring Valley’s chemical-warfare history became public. “The laws are stacked against the sick people in Spring Valley.”. It excavated 15 but didn’t find any munitions. Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and George H.W. Photograph by Brad Howell. And then came the diabetes, instead of in the reverse order. Miller was shocked that three of her childhood friends had died of cancers. Instead, it will incorporate the corps’ most recent soil and water sampling measurements in an attempt to provide an updated community health portrait. It has destroyed hundreds of munitions in a detonation chamber on federal property between Sibley Hospital and Dalecarlia Reservoir. Teleki then worked from his basement office as a lobbyist for the World Wildlife Fund. They lined up the support of the Restoration Advisory Board and enlisted Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, who made a personal plea to Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, head of the Corps. “I don’t think there’s any point in doing the Johns Hopkins study unless it has a major component of tracking down people around the country,” he said. Walk with your community and the American Cancer Society to help free the world from cancer. “One of the most difficult things we faced was trying to determine if there were health effects, who was exposed, to what chemicals, how much, and for how long,” says Walker. If the government and its leaders had to worry about getting sued, the law reasons, then government would suffer. Saum had grown up on Sedgwick Street and lived there from 1947 to 1964. New Medical Assistant Jobs Vacancies. She asked the Army to relocate her family until the digging was done, but her request was denied. “It’s important that we have experts review the studies.”. “We’re paying $250,000 to do a study of a transient population,” said Lee Monsein, a board member who has downplayed the risks of the buried waste. Arsenic-trichloride vapors can be lethal when inhaled. They suffered skin problems and cancers. She knows that the study is imperfect, yet she’s determined to make sure every household in the neighborhood knows of it. After the first bombs were found in 1993, the Army closed off the neighborhood, erected a sign that said danger—poison gas and evacuated 130 homes. Enter your ZIP code or call us at 1-800-ACS-2345. Delawareexternal icon 9. At a routine public meeting of local government representatives, Johns Hopkins researchers, residents and the corps in September, Spring Valley resident Lee Monsein echoed Teleki’s skepticism. We did not see a cluster of cancers of the same organ system in the community.”, Kent Slowinski, an activist and Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner who worked with Bermpohl, says the research is “just the tip of the iceberg. Arizonaexternal icon 4. “No one could figure out why I was getting sick.” Eventually an immunologist diagnosed hypogammaglobulinemia, a rare immune-system disorder. The Army dug the circular pits in 1918 and field-tested chemical-warfare agents, such as mustard gas and other lethal compounds. Janet has been treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a condition the 2007 study recognized as potentially arsenic-related. In Death Valley. They know who died and how.”. Nestled in the northwest corner of D.C.'s diamond, Spring Valley’s rolling landscapes are home to diplomats, prominent journalists, and even a young Kermit the Frog. This past November, she watched from her kitchen as Army contractors tore down the three-story brick house at 4825 Glenbrook. The Corps has told Dieterich and her neighbors that its elaborate tenting system will protect them from any poisons. She has been diagnosed with pernicious anemia—a rare and debilitating blood disorder—kidney disease, and lupus. Cancer Support Community is excited to announce the launch of our giving club Circle of Strength! Her daughter had severe mercury poisoning years before the discoveries, but Janet said there is no way for her family to know whether the Army artifacts and that condition were related. Contact us at 202-695-1000 or visit us at 4910 Massachusetts Ave, NW, Suite 308, Washington, DC 20016: FoxHall Dermatology Christine Dieterich needs answers to more immediate questions. Bailey has represented many Spring Valley residents for free. “My cancer, as I say, is only one of many kinds of cancer, so you can’t really equate it with anything going on in that particular environmental issue,” she said. The Corps discovered perchlorate in ground water in a well near American University, and it was found in the ductwork in a building on campus “to a quantity deemed explosive,” according to Dr. Richard Albright’s book, Cleanup of Chemical and Explosive Munitions. From basic information about cancer and its causes to in-depth information on specific cancer types – including risk factors, early detection, diagnosis, and treatment options – you’ll find it here. Alabamaexternal icon 2. “The first thing that happened was kidney failure. They sealed off the site and tested the contents of the bottles. Dieterich has two children, ages five and one. “No one ever told my parents about the chemical testing. Mon – Fri 9am – 9pm ET. “But I was treated at Hopkins for a blood disorder. And the laws are stacked against residents who attempt to use the legal system as a recourse, especially when the government is charged with creating the pollution. But in 1918, when the US was fighting in the trenches of Europe, Spring Valley was fields and farms. “The frustrating thing for me is that the Army is always doing things piecemeal,” Dieterich says. In 2001 the Corps discovered a third pit at 4825 Glenbrook and dug up 400 more munitions. see more » The Spring Valley study area is a 661-acre site located in Northwest Washington, DC. “I was examined by a doctor for NIH who told me my conditions could have been caused by arsenic poisoning,” she says. It wasn’t until she was a teenager that she was diagnosed with pernicious anemia, a disorder that causes fatigue. Tables in the community room were arranged in a square, with government officials among community representatives. The Spring Valley Restoration Advisory Board convened in mid-November of last year at St. David’s Episcopal Church off MacArthur Boulevard. Dan Noble and others at the Army Corps of Engineers have identified waste pits, testing trenches, and pathways from the firing range. Workers had noticed the ground smoking around the drum. “They know the stories. The persistent questions are why they died and whether buried chemicals contributed to their deaths—but those might turn out to be unanswerable. A cancer cluster is a statistical event, which may or may not have a cause other than chance. But we are reassessing all the time.”. Paradoxically, the neighborhood t… An elderly man answers. Californiaexternal icon 6. The Corps has been trying for years to pinpoint the location of a waste pit pictured in a grainy 1918 photograph. “The only way to get answers is to talk to people who have lived here their whole lives,” she says today. The Loughlins had to sue the government under the Federal Tort Claims Act, and a federal judge threw out all the cases against the United States under the “discretionary function exception.” This clause protects the government from being responsible for decisions that were made on the basis of an official’s policy judgment or choice. “We found out the white vapor was arsenic trichloride,” Dieterich says. Teleki, 67, said he has no idea how many pills he takes in a week. It summoned more than 1,000 chemical-weapons researchers to mix poisons and test the substances’ killing potential at the American University Experimental Station. But compared with the demographically similar Chevy Chase community, Spring Valley had more cases of arsenic-related conditions that affect the kidney, lungs, skin and bladder. Since then, the Army Corps has spent $221 million to clean up what it calls the Spring Valley Formerly Used Defense Site. “There’s a great deal of water under our homes. Miller knocks on the door of a stone house on Sedgwick Street, in the heart of Spring Valley. He was in his early 60s when the problems unexpectedly started. Johns Hopkins will not track down former Spring Valley residents, but they can fill out the online version of the health survey that will be mailed to residents, Fox said. The Corps has drilled 53 wells in Spring Valley and found arsenic as well as perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel, in the ground water. Teleki is skeptical about Johns Hopkins’s efforts. “That was our first piece of bad news.”. “It looks like they’re right on the playing field, doesn’t it?” she says, sitting in her living room. Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker. At MedStar Health are physicians, nurses, researchers, and support staff are all focused on one thing—caring for you and your family. Upcoming Meetings. “Are you going to prove that arsenic caused these cancers, or disease, or hypertension? “Has anyone else had to bury their friends? Spring Clinical Meeting: April 17 - 20, 2021; Summer School: Modern Applications of MR in Radiation Therapy : June 26 - 29, 2021; Meetings of Interest Inova Schar gives patients unmatched logistical, clinical and emotional support. The dig is expected to take more than a year, and Dieterich says she can’t afford to pay both her mortgage and her rent for that long. Coloradoexternal icon 1. “Thank God it was benign. Dieterich is more concerned about the excavations across the street. Photograph by Brad Howell. Bermpohl found 160 cases of “chronic, often life-threatening and rare diseases.”, Bermpohl’s research found an alarming number of diseases, but experts have criticized the findings as anecdotal and unscientific. Rolling in dirt? This article appears in the March 2013 issue of The Washingtonian. Two surveys of the entire neighborhood have found no elevated incidence of cancers. There are so many factors that would go into it, and so much money and time involved,” she said. “The thyroid is one of the most responsive organs to toxic contamination, so it’s usually the first to go. The number one risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman It never crossed my mind that it wasn’t normal to come home with stinging eyes and get them washed.”. Photograph courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers. Residents will be able to fill out surveys about their health, but they will not be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. “Selling is a complete nonstarter,” she says. Over 95% of women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer survive and thrive. Find the right location for your unique health needs. The Spring Valley cleanup project began in 1993, when a contractor unearthed buried military ordnance on 52nd Court Northwest. How long? In November, Army contractors tore down the three-story house at 4825 Glenbrook. They lobbed mortars from the edge of AU down toward what’s now Dalecarlia Reservoir. Lauren Mara Miller grew up in Spring Valley. “I could never figure out why my eyes burned all the time,” Miller says. Cancer Treatment Centers of America, where expert cancer care is our focus. On a brisk autumn Saturday, Miller is going door to door to pass out fliers that alert residents to the Johns Hopkins survey. Then the board turned its attention to the Johns Hopkins health study. It reopened its investigation, thanks in large part to Richard Albright, a lawyer and environmental scientist with the DC environmental department. “Look at all the people who died. Having found arsenic in the ground, the Corps has carted away thousands of tons of soil, and it’s still testing for more toxic waste. “That’s where they tied up the goats and set off bombs.”. He was in “excellent health,” he said, before he left Africa in the 1990s and returned to Spring Valley. “What we want to do is follow up on the health outcomes that were raised in the  scoping study, in addition to the arsenic-related cancers that we looked at last time,” Hopkins researcher Mary Fox said. Now, Johns Hopkins University is about to embark on yet another health study in this neighborhood. Your participation will help us fund and conduct innovate research, support patients, and spread the word about prevention. Have the buried poisons made Spring Valley residents sick? “It’s not imaginary.”, After the meeting, Miller vowed to stay engaged. I’m one of the lucky ones. The Loughlins’ case against AU and Lawrence Brandt was settled out of court and was sealed. A lawyer offered to represent her. The grass wouldn’t grow in our yard. “How can they expect me to have peace of mind and have my children play in the front yard while they are digging for chemical-warfare agents 20 feet away?” she asks. Wielding metal detectors, he surveyed yards, especially on Sedgwick Street, where he had found records of trenches. The Loughlins’ live-in nanny, Patricia Gillum, was diagnosed with actinic keratosis, a precancerous skin condition that can be caused by sun or industrial chemicals, including arsenic. It borders American University and lies between the home of the university’s president and the residence of the South Korean ambassador. Most residents would prefer that Spring Valley’s toxic past recede, but it remains immediate and relevant. Curing Cancer is a Team Sport Representing Over 3 Decades of Incredible Achievements & Lifesaving Results Join the new Team In Training to take on best-in-class endurance challenges worldwide – while raising money to pioneer groundbreaking research and advancements in the fight against cancer for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS). It was awarded the Robert D.G. It’s not going to happen,” he said. They’ll spend an estimated $12 million to excavate the site, and the dig could last into 2014. Saum would get so weak that she’d drop to her knees to crawl through her house. Lewis Watchdog Award by the DC chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In the 1950s, construction of a radio station on campus was stopped when workers unearthed a bomb. “We need an independent assessment by the National Academy of Sciences,” says Nan Wells, a biologist who represents Spring Valley on the Advisory Neighborhood Commission. How did it actually get into your system? “I know about the trenches at the bottom of the hill,” he says. The Loughlins also accused the developer of uncovering “laboratory equipment, jars, ceramic materials and a closed 55-gallon drum” while building the house. In the early 2000s, the Army Corps found the vestiges of a shed once filled with detonators under a 70-year-old tree in the Bohlens’ back yard, where Janet Bohlen said her daughter and neighborhood children would often play. They moved in in 2009. The Corps found no munitions but said the agency “could not disprove the burial of some materials.”. The Corps notified residents within the area that their yards could hold bomb parts. During World War I, the U.S. Army conducted chemical warfare research at the site of the present Spring Valley neighborhood in Washington, DC. It was called “the dew of death” because a single drop could be lethal. Our dogs got tumors.”, Camille Saum was eventually diagnosed with lupus and renal stenosis, a rare kidney disease that constricts the blood vessels. “When I was a kid, they were still digging up the ground around my street and building houses,” Miller says. Use our website to find a dialysis clinic near you. “My mother kept an eye-wash cup handy and rinsed out my eyes all the time. The Army Corps of Engineers, which was in charge of the dig, knew there might be toxic chemicals in the ground, but it wasn’t prepared for arsenic trichloride. “Where did these come from?” he asked. Miller left Spring Valley for college in 1974 and only moved back in 2007 to help care for her aging father. Researchers started to uncover what American University officials had known and when. Let’s say a siren goes off and I am at work. Perchlorate was also found in an elevator shaft at Sibley Hospital and in test wells close to Dalecarlia Reservoir. “We are not going to have any definitive information on actual cases,” says Mary Fox, the survey’s principal investigator. She sued the Army to no avail. Trusted Dermatologists serving Washington, DC. The three cases—the Loughlins’, Gillum’s, and Saum’s—were joined in federal court. The Loughlins might have had their hopes up because of a prior ruling by federal judge Stanley Sporkin, who presided over a 1996 case in which the Miller Companies, the principal developer of Spring Valley, sued the Army for failing to warn it about the buried toxins. Citing a general lack of understanding about the long-term effects of chemical weapons exposure, the report suggested conducting another study later. My wife has a blood disorder, too.”. CT and MRI scans revealed a lesion in her brain. “I want closure.”. And now we have to worry, for years to come,” he said. Lauren Mara Miller grew up in Spring Valley and believes that exposure to the buried chemicals has made her ill. There are some specific functions of the economy that do relentlessly progress without stopping even with all the activities that go around it. And the university called in the Army Corps to check for munitions before it built its sports complex in 1986. No dice. Sat – Sun 9am – 5pm ET (888) 793-9355 Cancer Support Community is a 501(c)3 charitable organization Months later, the Army Corps of Engineers found the first of two disposal pits on the Korean property, just over the fence from the Loughlins. Find out if there is a walk/run event in your community. The EPA is still developing drinking-water standards. Teleki is convinced that toxins left over from the military’s use of the area caused his health issues. “This kind of just fell out of the sky.”. Albright used historical evidence and maps to identify contaminated ground in Spring Valley and on campus. His feet turned black, to the confusion of his doctors. Kent Slowinski and other community members questioned whether neighbors would be safe. Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, M.D., was officially sworn in as the 15th director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on October 17, 2017. Arkansasexternal icon 5. Bombs with lewisite were on their way to Europe when World War I ended. The Army Corps had tested the soil around his Spring Valley house and given his residence a clean bill of health in 2003, but Teleki repeatedly questioned the assessment. “My role has become to persuade the Army to do the right thing,” Bailey says. The military, facing chemical weapons for the first time, leased property from the university to establish labs and testing sites. The new study, funded by the D.C. Health Department at the behest of D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3), isn’t designed to address individual health issues. Beth Resnick, outreach coordinator for the Hopkins study, said that despite residents’ concerns, they’ll never be able to prove whether the buried chemicals are causing residents’ health problems. Cancer.Net brings the expertise and resources of ASCO to people living with cancer and those who care for and about them to help patients and families make informed health care decisions. 2013 Spring Valley Public Health Study; Spring Valley - Areas of Interest [PDF] Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Fact Sheet. Real-estate values have remained strong. The dig could last into 2014. The neighborhood houses the main campus of American University at 4400 Massachusetts Avenue, the Wesley Theological Seminary at 4500 Massachusetts Avenue, and the former Washington College of Law campus at 4801 Massachusetts Avenue and 4910 Massachusetts Avenue, which has since been moved to nearby Tenleytownneighborhood. She was thought to have leukemia. But because the contamination affected specific streets and groups of houses built over known trenches and dumps, many residents believe that surveys encompassing all of Spring Valley are too diffuse and not conclusive. “Many of them had disturbed the soil by building additions. Until it came to light in 1993, Spring Valley’s chemical past was buried in archives. The Corps began cooperating with the EPA and the District health department, set up a website with regular reports, and helped establish a Restoration Advisory Board of government officials and community members, which still meets monthly. “It’s a community health study, as opposed to an individual health study,” Fox said. Miller stood up and explained that she felt compelled to alert her neighbors to the survey. He had no idea what lay beneath. Now I have growths on my thyroid. It has dug up more than 1,000 munitions, most empty, some still intact with toxic agents. There was also an important difference between the Miller and Loughlin cases: The developer had shown monetary loss. We find no connection between what might have been buried in the ground and our drinking water. It warrants further investigation.”. She agreed and also filed an administrative claim for $10 million from the Army for failure to warn people of the chemicals. Two things have become clear in the 20 years of testing and turmoil: It’s nearly impossible to prove a direct connection between the toxic chemicals and a specific disease. Tall but fragile, Geza Teleki moves slowly around his Bethesda home, where he moved a few years ago with his wife, Heather, after raising their children in Spring Valley. They charged the university with “fraud, deceit and outrageous conduct” based on documents showing that AU had known about the chemical testing and disposal since 1918. The Corps now believes that it has found “the hole called Hades”—directly across the street from Christine Dieterich’s home. Johns Hopkins Surgery - Sibley. Attorney General Eric Holder makes his home there now, as do TV anchor Jim Vance and attorney Brendan Sullivan. Chemical weapons were detonated in several areas during research and training operations. 1 in 8 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime . 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