Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Poisoned by Army's Fort Doom, Civilians Say

BALTIMORE (CN) - A U.S. Army Base in Maryland nicknamed Fort Doom for its research into offensive biological warfare is responsible for the deaths and illnesses of neighboring civilians, a class claims in Federal Court.
Fort Detrick's nickname hearkens to the 5,000 bombs containing anthrax spores that World War II researchers produced at the U.S. Army medical command installation in Frederick, according to the complaint filed Wednesday.
Lead plaintiff Angela Pieper says "German and Japanese scientists ... who had experimented on human subjects among POWs and concentration camp inmates" found work after the war at the 1,200-acre site.
During the Cold War years, Fort Detrick was "the world's leading research campus for biological agents requiring specialty containment," the complaint continues.
The Environmental Protection Agency allegedly put Fort Detrick on its Superfund list of the most polluted places in the country in 2009. Today the base is a cemetery for decades of biomedical and weapons research that were simply buried in shallow unlined pits, the complaint states.
Pieper says the plume of chemical agents seeping from these pits quickly made their way into the drinking water supply of neighboring properties. The toxins have allegedly caused locals to develop various diseases and cancers.
Pieper represents the estate of woman named Kristen Hernandez who died of "exposure to toxic materials, substances, chemicals, groundwater, compounds, wastes and/or byproducts thereof on or emanating from Fort Detrick," the complaint states.
A landfill that occupies one 400-acre site of Fort Detrick has been contaminated with "sterilized anthrax, radiological tracer materials, the lethal chemical agent phosgene, industrial waste, herbicides, and defoliants including known carcinogens in their formulation," according to the suit.
Other materials allegedly include "Agent Orange, dioxin, radioactive materials, anthrax, Ebola, tetrachloroethene (PCE), and trichloroethene (TCE)."
Pieper and other current and former Marylanders say that the Army allowed "those toxics to contaminate the property and the vicinity surrounding Ft. Detrick."
The area has been subjected to multiple studies over the years, but the first attempt at remediation did not occur until 2001 - a limited removal action by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, according to the complaint.
Cleaning crews opened one of the pits to find "unmarked, unlabeled containers, drums, barrels, and other chemical, biological, and/or radiological waste receptacles," the complaint sates.
"Vials containing live pathological bacteria were also revealed to have been disposed of at the site," the class added.

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