Monday, February 21, 2011

Department of Defense tested herbicides, possibly Agent Orange, at Fort Ritchie Army base in the 1950s, COPT says
By Stephanie Harbaugh
The Record Herald

Cascade, Md. —

The reuse of the former Fort Ritchie Army base has been dealt another blow with Department of Defense disclosures about chemical testing at the site in the 1950s.
This week
On Tuesday, the Army told Corporate Offices Trust — the company redeveloping the 500-acre mountaintop site — about a 2006 Department of Defense publication regarding the “tactical defoliants and herbicides” used at various military installations including Fort Ritchie, according to a news release issued by COPT Friday evening.
On Thursday, the Army disclosed another report published in 1956 titled “Defoliation Investigations during 1954 and 1955” which describes other testing and the use of defoliants and herbicides at Fort Ritchie.
According to the news release, COPT was not aware of the chemical use at the property until this week and the company is now working with the Army and PenMar to determine the precise location and extent of the testing conducted within Fort Ritchie.
That is likely to further delay the redevelopment of the former military base, which was closed in 1998 by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission.
Work at the base was halted in 2009 as the result of lawsuit filed by two former area residents who say the development planned by Corporate Offices Trust is very different than the one approved in 1997 by PenMar Development Corp. and the community.
Bill Hofmann, senior property and environmental services manager for COPT, said in January he hoped the lawsuit would be settled this year.


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