The Army says it is dropping plans for a 492,000-square-foot high-security biodefense Medical Countermeasures Test and Evaluation Facility at Fort Detrick, Maryland. The animal laboratory would have been used for public and private research on medical countermeasures for some of the world’s deadliest pathogens, including research on exposure of non-human primates to aerosolized biothreat agents.
The Army announced plans for the $584 million project in August 2010. In October of 2012, the National Academy of Sciences review board found problems with the Army’s Risk Assessment for the facility. The committee concluded that the risk assessment done by an Army contractor was “not sufficiently robust” to help design a facility that will reduce potential hazards to the environment and local population.
Army officials stated that demand for the facility was less than anticipated and that they will look instead to expand test and evaluation capabilities at existing facilities.