USAMRIID should consider strategies that have been used by other containment laboratories to enhance community understanding and facilitate integration into the community. If possible, such communication strategies could be coordinated with the two other laboratories of the National Interagency Biodefense Campus.
USAMRIID should involve the Frederick community in ongoing activities related to improving safety at the laboratory. For example, it might be useful to include community members on the Institutional Biosafety Committee (which reviews research involving biohazardous risks) or other relevant committees.
USAMRIID should create a community advisory board, with a broad representation of community views. This board should meet regularly to learn about successes, problems, and improvements in policies and practices; encourage public suggestions for improvements; and help shape the laboratory’s public communications and activities—including the development of guidelines for reporting incidents to the public.
In summary, although the EIS hazard assessment failed to provide adequate and credible technical analyses, current procedures, regulations, physical security, and biosurety guidelines at USAMRIID meet or exceed accepted standards and practices. Furthermore, the Army and Frederick County have the resources and the partnerships in place to address medical and emergency situations at the containment laboratories. Thus, the committee has a high degree of confidence that policies and procedures are in place to provide appropriate protections for workers and the public. Nonetheless, no program can fully stop all threats resulting from human error (for example, laboratory-acquired infections), or from theft or misuse of select agents. In going forward, the Army and USAMRIID should review their methods and procedures for preparing EIS hazard assessments, more actively train personnel regarding accountability and responsibility, and more proactively reach out to the local community to inform it of its safety and security policies and procedures and to constructively design approaches for communicating timely information should an adverse incident occur.