in the EIS. In addition, the committee will examine the current procedures and regulations in use by USAMRIID to reduce exposure to pathogens and evaluate whether these procedures and regulations are comparable to those in place at other similar facilities and whether they meet accepted standards under the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC, and other rules and guidance. These procedures will include measures for handling/containing pathogens during use, storage and inventorying of pathogens, procedures laboratory workers follow for treating and disposing of laboratory solid waste within USAMRIID, and handling contaminated waste water. The focus of the study is on the safety of both the general public and the laboratory workers, and for this reason USAMRIID’s records on laboratory acquired infections will also be considered, as will the measures being taken for ensuring the prevention and mitigation of risks to the health and safety of workers and the public.
This committee was formed to develop findings with respect to the charge. The committee comprised individuals with expertise in biosafety, infectious diseases, industrial hygiene, environmental engineering, risk assessment, epidemiology, and stakeholder participation. This report presents the consensus findings of the committee.
It is clear that the impetus for this project was the Frederick County residents, who are concerned about risks to their health from the research that will be conducted at the new USAMRIID facility. The only readily available documentation regarding potential health risks has been the EIS. EISs are documents required under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 to identify probable environmental impacts from programs and actions of the Federal Government. They are required to provide full and fair discussion of significant environmental impacts and consider reasonable alternatives that would avoid or otherwise minimize adverse environmental impacts or enhance the quality of the human environment. The categories of impacts are mainly determined by federal statutes, such as those governing air quality and water quality, which require that a particular environmental impact be considered.
NEPA grew from public concern that federally funded projects were causing significant harm and destruction to the environment and human health without any regulation. The language of the Act (Section 101 [42 U.S. Code § 4331]) definitively states that its purpose includes the need:
“[to] assure for all Americans safe, healthful, productive, and aesthetically and culturally pleasing surroundings” (emphasis added)