November 5, 2020
McMillan Park Water System Likely Built With Asbestos, Posing Health Hazard to City Reservoir & Neighborhoods
DC Officials Cannot Prove Environmental Impact Study Was Ever Completed
McMillan Park’s 25-acre water filtration system is a massive concrete structure likely composed with asbestos and, if demolished, would pose a severe health hazard to the city reservoir and thousands of residents in surrounding neighborhoods, according to testimony by a retired engineering technician who inspected the site.
Testimony (attached) by Charles Lockett, retired from the U.S. Naval Facilities Engineering Command in Washington, DC, was submitted last week to the DC Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), which is reviewing a legal challenge that DC officials illegally issued work permits to demolish McMillan Park.
“The city and the developer should have contacted the Army Corps of Engineers to understand the mixture of the concrete and gather information for durability of the concrete and the site overall,” Lockett testified.
“Given the era of construction in the early 1900s [when McMillan Park was built], it is likely the concrete was woven with asbestos as it was applied. Tests must be conducted and shared with the community to avoid any impacts to the health and well-being of the surrounding community. If the project to demolish this site almost entirely were to proceed, there will be significant dust made airborne, perhaps with asbestos fibers.”
Additional testimony (attached) submitted to OAH came from a local Bloomingdale resident who has been unable to obtain documentation from DC officials to confirm whether test analyses were ever conducted on the concrete at McMillan Park and whether an environmental impact study was ever made to identify potential harms due to the redevelopment.
“I was advised that there are three DC Departments that would be covering the various issues of concern I brought up: DCRA and DOEE and DOT for my traffic/transit and fugitive dust concerns as materials go offsite,” said Melissa Peffers, a Bloomingdale resident who lives near the park.
She testified that Ralph Knatt of DOEE informed her, “Allow me to clarify that the Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) has not received analytical results regarding the sampling of Cementitious structures at the McMillan project site. I am not sure if sampling/testing has been conducted.”
After filing Freedom of Information Act requests with all three agencies, she received a DOEE summary dated May 2016 stating “The District Department of the Environment has reviewed the Environmental Impact Screening Form (EISF) and related documents for this project…” but the information failed to include any supporting documents showing on what basis DOEE’s decision had been made.
“We can’t get to these documents that were relied upon by DDOE to determine that no Environment Impact Statement (EIS) was needed to be completed for this massive [redevelopment] project. We simply can’t get access to these key documents and they won’t be shared with us by the government,” Peffers said.
McMillan Park, located at North Capitol Street NW, and Michigan Avenue NW, is a locally protected and nationally recognized historic landmark on the DC Inventory of Historic Sites and the National Register of Historic Places. To date, more than 8,000 citizens signed a petition to preserve the Olmsted-designed park.
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