Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Spring Valley Arsenic and Ferns

PostedNovember 12, 2004

Download File (mp3)

The approach seemed too delicate to really clean up a toxic mess.  But Ed Hughes, of the Army Corps of Engineers, says special ferns grown in soil around American University and nearby homes cleared arsenic to safe levels a foot deep.  D.C.'s Spring Valley area was once used for chemical weapons testing, and arsenic is well over acceptable levels in many areas.  Traditional clean-up involves messy soil removal and re-landscaping.  Hughes says the ferns have soaked up enough arsenic to prevent any dangerous surface exposure in nine of fourteen areas they planted.  Next spring the engineers plan to more than triple the number of ferns planted this year.  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.