Residents discuss Fort Detrick concerns at biosafety expo

Researchers from Fort Detrick took public questions on Wednesday during the first Public Safety Expo and Open House held at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland.

The Containment Laboratory Community Advisory Committee sponsored the expo, inviting local residents to ask Fort Detrick and Frederick County officials about the research labs and biosafety issues. Approximately 50 local residents attended the event, the Frederick News-Post reports.

Lillian Herz, a Frederick resident since 1978, expressed concern about the new U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) building, which is currently under construction. She said the facility was a huge mistake because the chemicals and pathogens held there could be released into the environment in case of a disaster.

Diane Younkins, a Brunswick resident, expressed similar concerns.

"My concern here is if everything goes wrong, it could go wrong big," Younkins said, according to the Frederick News-Post.

Beth Willis, the chairwoman of the committee, said the event was organized with concerns like these in mind. The committee was put together to facilitate communication between the public and local laboratories.

"The last thing we want to say is, 'Don't worry, it's OK,'" Willis said, according to the Frederick News-Post

Committee members took questions on waste management, the lab's incinerator and disaster plans. Representatives from USAMRIID, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Detrick, Frederick County's Division of Emergency Management and the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center took questions during the expo, the Frederick News-Post reports.