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Army Lab Works to ID Live Bacteria

January 19, 2002

FREDERICK, Md. (AP) _ Cleanup efforts at Fort Detrick landfills have stopped until an Army laboratory identifies the live bacteria contained in vials that were found in a dump last week, base officials said Friday.

The bacteria are not anthrax and are not among agents recognized as biological weapons, said Lt. Col. Donald Archibald, base environmental officer.

The U.S. Army Medical Institute of Infectious Diseases should be able to identify the organism next week, Detrick spokeswoman Eileen Mitchell said.

Two sealed, glass vials containing a granular, whitish-brown material were found Jan. 7 by workers who were excavating a dump blamed for polluting groundwater.

The vials could have come from the Army’s infectious disease labs at Detrick, or from other base tenants, which include the National Cancer Institute, post officials said.

Archibald said it took time to rule out anthrax, which Fort Detrick produced in large quantities under an offensive biological weapons program from 1951 to 1969, when President Nixon banned such work. The landfill was used in the 1960s and ’70s, Mitchell said.

Additional safety measures will be implemented before work resumes at the dump, Archibald said. Army officials said there was a low probability of finding biological agents.


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Fort Detrick: http://www.armymedicine.army.mil/detrick

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