CASE CLOSED … what really happened in the 2001 anthrax attacks?

* Were the Ames samples submitted by the DCLS/FBI to the Repository from Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services? What were the circumstances of the FBI having the Ames?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 7, 2012

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2 Responses to “* Were the Ames samples submitted by the DCLS/FBI to the Repository from Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services? What were the circumstances of the FBI having the Ames?”

  1. DXer said

    What the FBI neglected to tell you: We now know from a Form 11R produced today by USAMRIID, which will be uploaded, that the lab doing its work in Richmond, Virginia was sent virulent Ames on July 25, 2001.

  2. DXer said

    DSCL was not the lab involved in the later controversy over the detection of “Ames anthrax” at the Pentagon mailroom. That was a different defense subcontractor.

    Richmond Times Dispatch (Virginia)

    March 24, 2005 Thursday
    CITY EDITION

    COMPANY: SAMPLE WASN’T TAINTED;
    DEFENSE SUBCONTRACTOR IN CHESTERFIELD STANDS BY ANTHRAX TEST RESULTS

    BYLINE: By Michael Martz and A.J. Hostetler Times-Dispatch Staff Writers Contact Michael Martz at (804) 649-6964 or mmartz@timesdispatch.com Contact A.J. Hostetler at (804) 649-6355 or ahostetler@timesdispatch.com

    SECTION: AREA/STATE; Pg. B-1

    LENGTH: 918 words

    A Virginia defense subcontractor says it has all but ruled out the possibility that a positive test for anthrax at a Pentagon mailroom could have been caused by contamination at the company’s laboratory in Chesterfield County.

    But the subcontractor, Commonwealth Biotechnologies Inc.,Enhanced Coverage LinkingCommonwealth Biotechnologies Inc., -Search using:Company ProfileNews, Most Recent 60 DaysCompany Dossier has no answer for how anthrax showed up in a sample from the mailroom, while later tests there found no trace of the deadly bacterium.

    “Unfortunately, the source of the positive sample may never be known with certainty,” said Dr. Robert B. Harris, president and chief executive officer of the company, in a statement released yesterday. “From [the company’s] point of view, we did our jobs and faithfully reported the positive test result to our contractor.”

    A detailed audit

    The company’s conclusion, based on a detailed audit of how it handled the samples taken March 10 at the mail facility next to the Pentagon, did not quell concerns by public officials in Virginia over how the anthrax appeared in the sample or why it took three days for them to find out about it.

    “Can anybody offer a reasonable explanation, given what [Commonwealth Biotechnologies] has said here, of what else could have occurred?” asked George W. Foresman, the state’s top homeland-security official.

    Foresman said the company’s audit results will have to be fitted into the results of ongoing reviews by state and local governments, as well as federal agencies, into the anthrax scare, which arose March 14 when the revelation of the positive sample came about the same time as a sensor sounded at another Defense Department mailroom in Fairfax County.

    “One piece doesn’t tell the entire story,” he said.

    A `false positive’

    Defense Department and Homeland Security officials had blamed Commonwealth Biotechnologies for accidentally contaminating a sample it took at the mail facility. That test, although confirmed by two Army biodefense labs, was labeled a “false positive” by the Defense Department when further environmental tests showed no signs of anthrax.

    Testing showed that the anthrax Commonwealth Biotechnologies says it found was the Ames strain, one typically used by labs studying bacillus anthracis. It was also the strain used in the unsolved 2001 anthrax mail attacks, which killed five people and sickened 17 others.

    Commonwealth Biotechnologies said yesterday that it stands by the results of its tests and that it followed all of the rules to avoid possible contamination of the sample.

    “While contamination cannot ever be absolutely ruled out, there is no evidence which directly links the positive test outcome to surface-to-sample, sample-to-sample or air-to-sample contamination,” Harris said in his statement yesterday.

    Commonwealth Biotechnologies has served as a subcontractor for testing at the Pentagon mail facility for over two years and has tested more than 2,000 individual samples. The March 10 sample — one of eight samples taken by swabs from four sensor filters — was its first positive test result.

    “In all this time, there has never been one instance of a false-positive result due to laboratory contamination or due to any other factor,” Harris said.

    Since the additional test results became known last week, Commonwealth Biotechnologies conducted an internal investigation, which Harris said showed no signs of surface or airborne contamination in the lab. He said the investigation also showed that the laboratory was not conducting any other anthrax-related research or testing at the time and that it had no ongoing program dealing with anthrax spores.

    Government attention has focused on the anthrax sample that the company used as a control in the testing, but Harris said the investigation showed that the lab did not conduct the Pentagon testing in the presence of the positive control sample. Video taken during the testing showed staff followed proper protocols and that the lab space had been decontaminated before the Pentagon testing, he said.

    Federal agencies, including the Pentagon and the FBI, are conducting their own investigation.

    Commonwealth Biotechnologies also defended its handling of the test results, which it reported March 11, the day after the samples were taken, to Vistronix Inc., the primary contractor for the Defense Department.

    “After CBI reported its results to its contractor, CBI had no influence on subsequent decisions,” Harris said.

    The president of Vistronix, based in McLean, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

    Foresman raised the possibility of revising state and federal laws to ensure that private laboratories promptly report to national and state health officials when they discover potential threats to public health and safety. Currently, federal and state laws require immediate reporting of positive tests of dangerous bacteria in human samples, not environmental samples, such as those taken at the Pentagon mail facility.

    State health officials said the sample should have been sent promptly to the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services, which operates laboratories in Richmond that are part of the national response network established after the anthrax attacks in 2001.

    James Pearson, the division’s director, said the state lab could have confirmed the positive sample and then conducted extensive testing to determine if the sample was valid long before the alarm sounded at the other Defense Department mailroom on March 14.

    “There are a lot of things we can do in a relatively short period of time,” he said, “but we’ve got to have the bug.”

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