December 12, 2007

CARDIN, MIKULSKI DISCUSS PUBLIC SAFETY WITH NEW FORT DETRICK COMMANDER, URGE ONGOING COMMUNITY OUTREACH

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today met with Major General George W. Weightman, the new Commanding General of Fort Detrick and the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC).  In their first meeting since Maj. Gen. Weightman took command last month, the Senators discussed their concerns for the community's safety and an ongoing dialogue regarding the Army's efforts to upgrade and replace an old Level 4 Biosafety Lab as part of the National Inter-agency Biodefense Campus on the installation.

In a recent meeting with Frederick County Commissioners, Senator Mikulski pledged to keep pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), who is responsible for approving the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) that will allow the replacement process to continue.  Senator Mikulski urged the EPA to meet with community leaders in a public forum where their concerns could be addressed.

"While we continue to build the technology to keep us safe from new challenges and new threats from predators, we must also remember that public safety must be our top priority," said Senator Mikulski.  "The community has a right to an ongoing dialogue about their concerns with Fort Detrick's expansion, and I commended Maj. Gen. Weightman for his announcement today that he will hold a public meeting with the community on January 17, 2008."

"I insisted that Maj. Gen. Weightman follow my key principles on Fort Detrick's expansion - look out for the safety of facilities, their workers and the community, focus on keeping us secure from predators and from accidents, develop a strategy for waste disposal and full compliance with all non-proliferation and bio-defense agreements," continued Senator Mikulski.  "We must follow the process.  We must trust, but we must also verify."

"Today Maj. Gen. Weightman shared his ambitious and impressive agenda for the Army Medical and Material Command," said Senator Cardin.  "I was most pleased to hear about his intentions to be a hands-on leader and to adopt an open approach with the surrounding community.  I hope he will extend that collaborative approach to the full range of safety and environmental concerns I am hearing from my constituents."