(FOOTNOTE)(END FOOT)very few months, a white truck driven by two Russians pulls up to a private dump in Great Falls, Va. A load of trash is deposited, and the white truck pulls away.
Even before the trail of dust from the truck settles, a dump employe telephones her contact at the FBI: The Russians have come again.
Within minutes, a team of official garbologists is dispatched to sift through the Soviets' leavings.
The Stump Dump, a 50-acre landfill on Utterback Store Road, is a major dumping ground for trash from Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. But its exotic clientele makes this a dump like no other. Besides the Russians, the dump has counted as clients the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, the Nigerian and other embassies, the General Services Administration and other U.S. agencies.
In its best spy/counterspy form, the FBI will neither confirm nor deny that it picks through the castoffs of foreign governments. But dump employes say the top intelligence finds so far have been restaurant receipts and a stack of about 50 parking tickets discarded by the Soviets.
Dump manager Bob Johnson said the Russians -- who sometimes pay the dumping fee in cash, sometimes in free bottles of vodka -- do not think twice about the trash, but that the FBI apparently finds it useful.
"The FBI learns all kinds of stuff from it -- like when the Russians have been to Rive Gauche, and who they've had dinner with. The parking tickets tell them where the Russians have been."
Once, Johnson said, East met West by accident when FBI agents driving a little black car arrived prematurely at the Stump Dump. There were the Russians, unloading their trash. The two groups eyed each other suspiciously from opposing corners of the desolate dump.
The next time, Johnson said, the FBI agents showed up with better camouflage: a gaily painted van.
The CIA, whose headquarters is located about 12 miles from the dump, became a customer after Fairfax County pollution laws banned trash burning, forcing the agency to get rid of its waste paper through pulping and other means. The agency contracted with GSA to dispose of the waste, said Tom Harrington, GSA's chief of building services.
GSA hauls the trash to the nearest dump, the landfill on Utterback Store Road.
But this is not just any trash. The CIA shreds its paper, puts it through chemicals to obliterate the print, grinds it, compacts it, and sends it off to the dump in 20-cubic-yard boxes. The dump fee is $20 per box.
"The CIA comes out every so often to see if anyone is looking at them," Johnson said.
The Defense Department, too, shreds its papers and brings out four or five loads a week of 30 cubic-yard boxes. Defense employes stay to make sure that bulldozers bury their debris, Johnson said.
GSA deposits an occasional rusty filing cabinet of its own, but its employes don't look back.
Although the Russians usually say little and pay in cash, Johnson said they once brought a fifth of vodka to share with the staff and a chimpanzee named Mario that belonged to dump owner Jack Crippen.
After a few shots of vodka, Mario became oblivious to ideological differences and threw his arms around the Russians. "He didn't care they were a bunch of Commies," said Johnson.
Mario has since moved on, but the Russians remain faithful dumpers, sometimes bringing intriguing junk.
"Once they brought a new Russian car, completely stripped down. It was really weird," Johnson said. "Everything was gone from it, the upholstery, the motor. I guess they brought something over in it."
Recent citizen complaints about the dump's odor have brought a new list of restrictions from the Fairfax County Department of Environmental Management, including a ban on loads of paper.
Under the dump's permit, only waste paper from construction sites was previously allowed, but Fairfax officials say it was common knowledge that tons of paper have gone into the landfill.
"It fell through an administrative crack," said William Smith of the county government. "We never go around to telling them, 'Thou shalt not take paper.'"
Now that the commandment has been given, it looks as if the days are over for the place where Washington buried its secrets.