National Research Institute to evaluate proposed Fort Detrick lab

A group of independent scientists at the National Research Institute will evaluate the proposed work plan for a $600 million animal testing laboratory at Fort Detrick for potential risk assessments to allay fears within the community.

The Medical Countermeasure Test and Evaluation Facility, which will be built at Fort Detrick near Frederick, Maryland, is expected to open in 2018, reports. The 492,000-square-foot facility will act to fill gaps for national animal testing for the departments of Defense and Health and Human Services.

The lab will use primates like macaques, a species used in many animal tests, to research infectious pathogens like Marburg, Ebola and anthrax. The risk assessment group will look for possible scenarios to public health, including the escape of test animals, insider and outsider terrorist acts, natural disasters, infected workers, aerosol dispersal and person-to-person transmission.

Previous risk assessments have come under fire by the National Research Council, such one done on the USAMRIID’s infectious disease research lab, which is currently under construction. The assessment was deemed to be not credible.

“If it is not credible to the scientific community, there is no expectation that it will be credible to the public,” John Beaver, president of the BSA Environmental Services, an environmental consulting firm that is writing the risk assessment, said, according to