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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Mar 21, 2012
In the Pipeline
1000 South Capitol
25 M
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1333 M St.
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Nat'l Community Church
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Virginia Ave. Tunnel ('19)
99 M ('18)
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1221 Van ('18)
District Winery ('17)
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One Hill South ('17)
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909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
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70/100 I ('08)
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400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
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Marine Barracks ('04)
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When a "suspicious package" alert went out on Twitter this morning about the 1200 block of 4th St. SE and 400 block of Tingey being closed, my Spidey sense tingled a bit, given the recent speculation in comment threads that the halt in digging at the planned 1212 4th St. apartment building/Teeter project at the Yards was because of an "UXO" (unexploded ordnance).
One reader sent me both videos and a series of iPhone photos showing the activity, but it was DCIst that got the money shot: a photo clearly showing a big ole' UXO (oh, heck, let's have fun and call it a bomb). This site is of course part of the old Navy Yard footprint, where all manner of exploding items were manufactured for many years.
Since no one's reported any big BOOMs in the intervening time, the clean-up must have proceeded according to plan. The question is, will there be any more surprises once digging resumes?
UPDATE: Here's WJLA's report on the day's festivities, and then DCist unearthed these two videos of the gun factory from 1952.
UPDATE II: While we're all enjoying being a bit flip about all of this, it is of course a serious business to be doing this excavation with such items laying around. Forest City tells me that the work is being done in accordance with guidelines from the Army's Explosive Ordnance Division, and that indeed over the past several weeks sitework has needed to be stopped temporarily because of the unearthing of "munitions debris." Each time, the police department's bomb squad is called in, who then determine whether the EOD folks from Ft. Belvoir should be called in, as they were today.
Forest City also says that it's anticipated that most buried artifacts and debris are found within the first 10 to 15 feet of soil when excavation, so once they get past that level, they expect the finds will trail off. And, it's not just munitions being found--foundations of several homes that were on site prior to the lot being used by the Navy have been found, as well as a Civil War-era cannon.
But the company does want to emphasize that "public safety and the safety of the site workers are paramount for Forest City, so we will continue to strictly abide by the established practices and involve the qualified technicians whenever and as soon as necessary." This includes having a former Navy munitions expert on site at all times as a "spotter," and using a two-part method when excavating, scooping the dirt from the hole in small quantities and spreading it out to be looked at and cleared before it's then scooped into a truck for removal from the site.
Whether this will impact the timeline for 1212 4th's construction depends on how many stoppages there end up being.

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