Residents vow to be Fort Detrick bioweapon watchdogs

Two residents of Fredrick County, Maryland, have vowed to become the watchdogs of a public group appointed to give residents concerned about Fort Detrick biocontainment labs a public voice.

Barry Kissin of Frederick and George Rudy of Walkersville gave that message to Commissioner David Gray recently during his first public forum, according to

Last year, Gray, a Republican, was instrumental in creating an independent, scientific study on the dangers of expanding the labs at the fort last year.

An eight-story building set to house the biocontainment labs is currently under construction. When it is finished in 2015, it is expected to employ 950 people. The U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases is the central agency of the Interagency Biodefense Campus at Fort Detrick that will run the labs and conduct research on some of the world’s most virulent pathogens.

Last year’s investigation did not turn out entirely positive, reports. The National Academy of Sciences, based in Washington, D.C., said that the army did not adequately assess the risks inherent in opening a lab of this kind. There was little it could do beyond recommending that a better means of communication be developed between the base and the community.

Gray worked with several Democrats - former Commissioner Kai Hagen and Aldermen Karen Young and Carol Krimm - in selecting the nine members of the new Detrick board.

Kissin and Rudy were both denied membership on the board and were upset because, in their view, the board contained members who would not represent their interests, reports.

"You have four insiders on the board who were not involved at all in these issues before becoming members," Kissin said, according to "The purpose of this board was to provide a real voice about what's happening on base, not a PR path for Detrick."

Rudy, who has a background in the nuclear regulatory industry, is more optimistic than Kissin.

 "It can do its job if there is enough interest on the part of qualified people to challenge this board and force them to do their job," Rudy said, according to