MCMILLAN NEIGHBORS PLEAD FOR HELP FROM COUNCIL CHAIR PHIL MENDELSON AS DEMOLITION IMMINENT; LETTER SENT ASKING FOR SAFETY PLANNING AND TESTING REPORTS
WASHINGTON, DC — On Tuesday April 5, 2021, McMillan Park neighbors and supporters asked DC City Council Chair, Phil Mendelson to intervene for the health and well-being of DC residents before demolition begins at the McMillan Park and Sand Filtration Plant.
Mendelson has been asked to help get safety planning and testing documents from the DC Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs and DC Department of the Environment so far hidden from the public despite FOIA’s and an appeals case.
Experts have put on the record that based on the time of construction and era-materials used for the McMillan historic structures, there is likely asbestos woven into 1.3 million cubic feet of cement at the site. The DC drinking water supply is in part stored at the McMillan Reservoir located just across from the potential demolition site.
Neighbors requests of the testing reports and safety planning documents have been stonewalled since 2019 by DCRA and DOEE. Also, since last fall, Ward 5 neighbors of the park have regularly asked Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie to help but these pleas have gone unanswered.
At a recent public virtual gathering hosted by Mendelson, he was asked about the issue and said he could ask DCRA for the documents. Neighbors eagerly await his efforts and response to the letter cited below:
———- Forwarded message ———
From: SaveMcMillan ActionCoalition <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Apr 6, 2021 at 11:47 AM
Subject: URGENT to CM Mendelson: Seeking Your Assistance with DCRA & Asbestos at McMillan Park
To: Mendelson, Phil (COUNCIL) <email@example.com>
Dear Mr. Mendelson, (cc’ing staff)
Neighbors living around McMillan Park, including many cc’d, have asked our Ward 5 Councilmember, Kenyan McDuffie, to help us get files from DCRA showing what kinds of safety planning and testing have been done before issuing permits to demolish and tear out 1.3 million cubic feet of cement at the McMillan Park Sand Filtration Plant.
Kenyan McDuffie (cc’d his staff) has been silent on this issue, stone-walling numerous requests to meet despite numerous emails from Ward 5 neighbors, especially elders and families with kids. We’ve even had to move to open an investigation of CM McDuffie, for sidestepping his oath to protect us, to the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability.
Considering Mr. McDuffie’s dereliction of duty to his Ward 5 constituents and on behalf of the safety of DC’s air and water supply (DC tap water reservoir located across the street from McMillan Park Sand Filtration Plant), we are asking you, Chairman Mendelson, to pursue assistance and documents from DCRA about safety planning for any activities at McMillan Park.
We seek all documentation and testing results in writing at DCRA as it regards asbestos or any other hazards that may be plumed into the air upon demolition, and any safety measures to mitigate as such.
We have cement experts who have stated for the record that asbestos may likely be woven into the cement at the McMillan Park Sand Filtration site, given the time period of construction. DCRA alleges tests have been completed, yet won’t share them publicly even despite FOIA’s to request these documents.
This issue came up at a recent “Meetup with Mendo” virtual gathering >>
You said, “I’d be willing to look into this” regarding DCRA’s testing/lack thereof of asbestos at McMillan Park.
Mr. Mendelson, we need your assistance (despite our FOIA’s and attempts at discovery thru OAH hearings) to get the original EISF Intake form, and any documents files or reports, showing that asbestos testing was done, what was tested, where/how, and what were the results, and other planning and safety documents to prevent the pluming of potential asbestos dust into the air and into our water supply.
DCRA has been less than forthcoming with what should be critically important and openly available public information.
We look forward to your response and action.
Linwood Norman, Ward 5
Media Coordinator, Save McMillan Action Coalition