Terror Response Plan Concerns Frederick's Mayor

Source: 
The Associated Press

A carefully guarded plan designating Frederick, Md., as an evacuation site if terrorists attack Washington or Baltimore will be shared with municipal leaders but not with the public, according to Frederick County Sheriff James Hagy.

Hagy, who heads a county terrorism response committee, announced plans for the Feb. 19 meeting Wednesday after some local officials, including the city's mayor, complained they were left out of the loop.

Limited details of the 54-page plan, code-named the Genesis Project, were reported Sunday by The Frederick News-Post and The Washington Post. The 64-acre Frederick Fairgrounds near the city center would be converted into a medical treatment and decontamination center for thousands, using parking lots as triage centers and livestock barns as morgues, according to the reports.

The Genesis plan also envisions blocking exits along interstate highways to funnel traffic into Frederick.

Frederick Mayor Jennifer Dougherty, who was excluded from the planning process, said she is concerned about the city being inundated with people exposed to radiation from a "dirty bomb" – a possible scenario outlined in the plan.

"I'm worried about the water," she said, explaining that radiological contamination could wash into the Monocacy River – one of the city's drinking water sources.

The plan secretly was developed by a group of emergency responders calling themselves the Nuclear Subcommittee – a subset of the Local Emergency Planning Committee that Hagy heads. He said Wednesday that no city or state police were involved, but he has shared the plan with their local commanders.

Hagy told the News-Post that the public and news media would be shut out because the plan's success depends on secrecy. "I will uphold my responsibilities in spite of the criticism," he said on Monday.

Officials in Montgomery County, the area which lies between Frederick and Washington, have dismissed the Genesis plan, saying they have their own terrorism response plans.

"We have no plans to evacuate. There is no plan to rush people into Frederick County. We are not going to get involved," Montgomery County Sheriff Ray Kight said.

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