Army demolishes Washington, DC, home once site of chemical weapons facility

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently began demolishing a vacant Washington, D.C., home believed to have been built on a chemical weapons disposal pit.

The house, which was built in the 1990s, is located in one of the capital's most affluent neighborhoods of Spring Valley. The project is expected to cost approximately $240 million, which will be paid for by the federal government, according to the New York Times.

The house was supposed to be destroyed and the area decontaminated last spring, but there were a series of delays over permits and an objection from a neighbor, who asked to be temporarily relocated.

"I'm glad - an unqualified glad - that they're doing this," Nan Wells, a representative to the area's neighborhood council, said, the New York Times reports. "I think what's important is that they be open about what they're finding."

The house sits on land once owned by American University. During World War I, the university offered portions of its campus to help the war effort. The U.S. military built a research station on the site and used it for the development of chemical weapons, protective suits and gas masks.

When the war ended, the Army agreed to return the land. Records suggest that at least some munitions and chemical agents were buried at the site. There is a photograph of a soldier standing at the edge of a pit alongside mustard gas containers.

"The bottles are full of mustard to be destroyed here. In Death Valley. The hole called Hades," the photographs inscription reads, the New York Times reports.