The construction equipment rolling down the street may look like a sign of progress to you, but to Christine Dieterich, it looks like trouble.
"We're talking about stuff that is extremely aggressive once it's in contact with air," she says. "That's what it was made for. It was made to be thrown on people and to kill them."
She and her husband and kids live in the Spring Valley neighborhood of Northwest D.C. During World War I, American University leased space to the government for chemical weapons testing. Now, the neighborhood is home to burial pits for munitions and chemicals.
"Two months from now, we'll have people digging for highly poisonous, World War I chemical weapons leftovers with my child playing in the front yard," Dieterich says. "I can assure you that makes me very nervous."
The stately brick house directly across the street from Dieterich on Glenbrook Road, NW is being torn down starting Thursday.
"We have some information based on historical data that we suspect there is potential for another burial pit under the house," says Brenda Barber of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Through Dieterich's front window, you can see the workers and the green fence that surrounds the house. She's asked that her family be relocated to another area for a year or so while the project is completed. So far, the answer from Department of the Army has been no.
"Safety is our priority," says Barber. "All the planning that has gone into this project is to ensure the safety of the community."
Dieterich says when they bought the house, they were told their side of the street was clear. Later, she says water samples from her property turned up contaminants.
Dieterich knows the long-term goal is total cleanup of the neighborhood. It's what happens in the meantime that has her worried.
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