News Release

Update on Fort Totten Park metal canister investigation

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Date: November 9, 2023
Contact: Autumn Cook, 771-215-6954

WASHINGTON— An area of Fort Totten Park remains closed and fenced, and cement barriers and “no trespassing” signs will remain while the National Park Service (NPS) and U.S. Army further investigate the metal canisters, determined to be WWI-era munitions, found there in the spring. Based on investigations to date, the NPS and the Army have determined it is possible Fort Totten Park contains additional munitions.

The two metal canisters, found April 18, were discovered in the park after unauthorized work conducted by an adjacent property owner pushed approximately 10 feet of soil onto NPS land. One munition was a 75-mm projectile, approximately 3 inches in diameter and 11 inches long. The other munition was a Livens projectile, approximately 6 inches in diameter and 19 inches long. Initial assessment by Army experts indicated the 75-mm projectile did not pose a hazard and the Livens projectile contained an unknown liquid. After initial assessment, the items were transported to a nearby secure Federal facility. Both items were evaluated by the Army’s Materiel Assessment Review Board (MARB). The MARB evaluates munitions with an unknown liquid fill using data collected through non-intrusive assessment, historical records, and military expertise. Initial testing of the liquid in the Livens projectile was inconclusive, so it was taken to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Edgewood, Maryland, on Aug. 2, for additional testing. The additional testing indicated that the Livens did not pose a hazard.

To date, the additional testing determined:

  • The 75-mm projectile contained only soil.

  • The Livens projectile was filled 85 percent with liquid. The liquid was 99.9994 percent water and 0.0006 percent a commercial chemical called acetophenone. That concentration is equivalent to one grain of sand in one million grains. Acetophenone is a commercial chemical used in the perfume industry as fragrance in soaps and perfumes, as a flavoring agent in foods, and as a solvent for plastics and resins. It is not hazardous.

The NPS and Army are seeking funding to conduct a comprehensive investigation at Fort Totten Park.

More information regarding the use of the site during the construction of the Metrorail Greenline can be found at

The safety of visitors and the community are of the utmost importance to the NPS and the Army. As such, the park will remain closed. It is important to stay out of the area while it remains closed. If you believe that you have encountered a munition, you should consider it dangerous. Learn and follow the 3Rs of explosives safety: Recognize—when you may have encountered a munition and the potential danger; Retreat—do not approach, touch, move or disturb it; Report—call 911 and notify local law enforcement of what you saw and where you saw it.


Last updated: November 9, 2023

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