(FORT DETRICK, Md. - July 22, 2008) - Fort Detrick added a critical link in the chain leading to the National Interagency Biodefense Campus today.
A small crowd of state and local dignitaries, Fort Detrick leaders and Soldiers gathered today at the future site of the fort's new steam sterilization plant for a groundbreaking ceremony.

"Today marks a significant milestone in the ramp-up to the future of Fort Detrick, the National Interagency Biodefense Campus," said garrison commander Col. Judith D. Robinson. "This ceremony symbolizes the beginning of construction for the new steam sterilization plant. The plant will support USAMRIID, and replaces the aging facility that currently provides sterilization services for the laboratories."

The new facility will support the laboratories of the U.S. Army Research Institute for Infectious Diseases and will cover about 16,000 square feet. The plant is projected to be able to handle up to 56,000 gallons of liquid waste per day.

"The waste liquids from the laboratories are initially treated at the lab, and then drained to holding tanks at the steam sterilization plant," said Mike Jewett, project coordinator for Fort Detrick. "There, it is subjected to steam sterilization, super-heated to about 250 degrees fahrenheit for about 20 minutes to sterilize the waste, which can then be treated as normal wastewater."

Robinson noted that the older facility the SSP will replace had provided 55 years of outstanding service, and thanked the staff for their support and hard work.

"The plant built here will effectively provide secondary thermal treatment for biological waste produced by USAMRIID labs," said Col. Peter W. Mueller, commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

The Corps will oversee the project, which Mueller noted, will be larger than any such plant in the world.

"The efforts of the entire project delivery team, including design and construction partners, Summer Consultants and John C. Grimberg Construction, have advanced the interests of the fort, the Army and the nation," said Mueller.

The plant will cost and estimated $30 million, and should be completed in May 2011. Actual construction is slated to begin within the month.

Planning for the facility began in June 2004, with the initial concept completed in February 2005. The contract to build was awarded in April of this year.