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THE NATION | IN BRIEF / AND FINALLY . . .

Fish Act as Sentries for Base Water Supply

April 14, 2002|From Times Wire Reports

Eight sentries are on constant guard against the poisoning of Fort Detrick's water supply. Each is 3 inches long.

Like canaries in a coal mine, baby bluegills swimming in clear plastic chambers are being carefully monitored for signs of contamination in the Maryland army base's drinking water.

Since October, the fish have been living in a white trailer next to the Monocacy River, near the water intake for Fort Detrick and its biological warfare defense laboratory.

Few such systems are in place in the United States, where water quality is monitored mainly through chemical analysis that looks for contaminants.

A weakness in that approach, say scientists, is that the toxins they test for may not be what terrorists dump into a river or reservoir.

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