Fort Detrick Environmental Studies Get Review

FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — The Army takes another look at possible groundwater contamination around Fort Detrick. 

Pat Warren reports many residents suspect water from wells in the area have created a long-standing health hazard.

The history of Fort Detrick in Frederick County puts a scare in residents like Dottie Blank, who believe they are plagued with contaminants from Vietnam-era research into chemical warfare.

“I believe I have this enemy across from me,” Blank said.

In an Eyewitness News special report in November, Blank told WJZ she and others may have cancer due to groundwater contamination.

“What I have, is it because of Detrick?” she said.

People throughout Frederick are asking that question.  Some came to Annapolis to petition the General Assembly for answers this year.  Jennifer Peppe-Hahn made a point to be at a National Research Committee briefing in Frederick Monday.  She’s battled cancer since age 13.

“I had Hodgkin’s disease at 13 and I went to Waverly Elementary and lived near Area B,” Peppe-Hahn said.  “I just got through breast cancer at 38.”

Area B, the point of contamination, is under new investigation by the Army.

“The records disappeared from Fort Detrick.  Now that doesn’t mean they’re lost; they went to archive.  I always use the Raiders of the Lost Ark analogy, where that box was put in the warehouse. The records were scattered to at least 17 different locations,” said Ft. Detrick Environmental Coordinator Robert Craig.

New studies are intended to provide more accurate information.  Results of the study could be available by the end of the year.

The National Research Council is reviewing the Army’s continuing investigation.

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