Budget cuts lead to layoffs at Fort Detrick

Thursday - 1/6/2011, 3:43pm EST

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) - Fifteen contract laboratory workers are being laid off at Fort Detrick because of budget cuts at the Department of Homeland Security.

The agency has cut $8 million from its contract with the new biodefense lab operated by Battelle National Biodefense Institute at Fort Detrick.

Late last year, a spokesman says Homeland Security officials decided to scale back the contract and write risk assessment reports in-house, rather than contract them out.

Homeland Security spokesman John Verrico says the new $147 million lab is still a priority. The lab's construction was completed in 2008, and it is still undergoing safety and environmental testing to become fully operational.

Verrico says no other budget cuts are being considered.

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