Research council issues report on Army biocontainment labs

The National Research Council expressed confidence in the safety procedures at the U.S. Army's biocontainment labs at Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD, despite finding problems with the environmental impact statement for lab expansion, according to a new report.

The impact statement estimated the effects of potential mishaps at the new U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases facilities. The Army said mishaps would lead to insignificant ground concentrations and pose no threat to the nearby community; however, the council's calculations showed potential for significantly higher exposure, according to a press release from the National Academies of Sciences.

The council also found the report lacked adequate documentation of potential exposure for workers and others on the base.

The council recommended the Army improve communication with the public and develop new guidelines for hazard assessment at such facilities. Currently, none exist, the release said.

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