Study on Fort Detrick groundwater contamination was flawed, new study concludes

According to a national scientific panel, a federal study conducted in 2009 that concluded that the groundwater contamination from Fort Detrick was not likely to have harmful health effects was flawed.

The National Research Council panel said on Monday that the study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services should have actually concluded that the groundwater, which was tainted with chemicals, presented an indeterminate hazard to health. The panel urged the public health agency of Maryland to further analyze data showing higher lymphoma rates in neighborhoods near Fort Detrick than found in the state generally, Associated Press reports.

Fort Detrick is home to the military's first biodefense laboratory - the U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Disease. The facility held offensive biological weapons research from the 1940s to the early 1970s and has hosted defensive bioweapons research since then.

"We had this done, and this is why we wanted to have this done," Rob Sperling, a spokesman for Fort Detrick, said, according to Associated Press. "We wanted to ultimately have the 'supreme court' of environmental and research academies look at this. We care about the health and well-being of our employees, the people here, our tenants and the communities."

The investigation into pollution from the facility started in 1991. The water was tainted with the suspected carcinogen tetrachloroethylene and the cancer-causing solvent trichloroethylene as a result of tests conducted at the facility.

"Efforts to clean up the Area B landfill must be accelerated and must be aggressive," Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) said, according to Associated Press.