The state of Maryland investigated Fort Detrick for hazardous waste handling violations

The state of Maryland investigated Fort Detrick for hazardous waste handling violations as military personnel destroyed old chemicals with grenades.

Maryland will investigate possible hazardous waste violations at Fort Detrick in Frederick after state environmental officials concluded the Army improperly destroyed old chemicals discovered in its germ warfare defense laboratory.

An Army bomb squad from Pennsylvania on Jan. 24 used 96 incendiary grenades to destroy containers of ethers in a sealed pit dug on the post.

Richard W. Collins, hazardous and solid waste director for the Maryland Department of the Environment, accused the Army in a letter of overreacting to the discovery of the 32 containers in a storage cabinet at the Army Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (Fort Detrick).

The containers held about 7 gallons of ethers, mostly diethyl ether, a common laboratory chemical used to anesthetize research animals, among other things.

State officials looking into the incident visited the base on March 26 and found deficiencies in Fort Detrick’s training and procedures for responding to emergencies, storing and disposing of hazardous wastes and assuring timely removal of dangerous chemicals, Mr. Collins wrote.