Army searching for info on possible Ft. Detrick contamination

Tuesday - 10/26/2010, 8:40am EDT

Laurie Haines, Environmental Restoration Manager, Army Environmental Command

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By Suzanne Kubota
Senior Internet Editor
FederalNewsRadio.com

The Army Corps of Engineers is calling on the community to become involved in the Ft. Detrick restoration program.

It has awarded a contract to One Stop Environmental to conduct community interviews and find out whether activities at Ft. Detrick might have led to environmental contamination.

The idea behind the interviews, according to Laurie Haines, Environmental Restoration Manager with the Army Environmental Command, is to tap into institutional knowledge that may or may not be documented in the fort's files.

Haines told Federal News Radio the Army is reaching outside the gates for information.

"Fort Detrick itself is part of the community," said Haines. "Eighty percent of the people that work at Fort Detrick live in the local community, so they've always been concerned with safety and the community's opinion."

Because so many of them are ex employees and current employees and live near the facility, they may have information about activities that occurred in the past that the people who work there currently may not have, and so if they have this information and they present it to us, we will work with that information in addition to our archive search report that we're doing to try to identify maybe locations where these activities were conducted so that we can go out and possibly take samples if it appears as if something may have occurred that could have created some contamination.

A 2006 report to the Department of Defense shows that herbicides, including Agent Orange, were formulated and tested at Ft. Detrick. While there has been no link established, an investigation has been launched to determine whether testing at the fort is responsible for a rash of cancer cases in the area.

Haines said any information gathered now about historical activities on the site helps "focuses the clean up activities."

Interviews are planned to be conducted through February, said Haines. Then One Stop Environmental will put together a report for the Army with bulletpoints and data, no analysis or conclusions. "We're not going include names and addresses or anything like that in the report itself," said Haines. "It will just be a summary of the information provided so the people do not need to be worried about their privacy being effected."

To set up a community member interview, go to DetrickCommunity.com or call 888-203-2912.

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