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

* The soon-to-be-released DoD report attributes Dugway’s problems with radiation dosing viability testing, and aseptic procedures to “scientific uncertainty” concerning dose levels and time intervals between irradiation and viability testing; Bruce Ivins experienced the same thing at USAMRIID

Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 17, 2015

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14 Responses to “* The soon-to-be-released DoD report attributes Dugway’s problems with radiation dosing viability testing, and aseptic procedures to “scientific uncertainty” concerning dose levels and time intervals between irradiation and viability testing; Bruce Ivins experienced the same thing at USAMRIID”

  1. DXer said

    Here is a copy of the “Review Committee Report: Inadvertent Shipment of Live Bacillus anthracis spores by DoD”

    http://www.defense.gov/home/features/2015/0615_lab-stats/docs/Review-Committee-Report-Final.pdf

  2. DXer said

    Procedures Faulted in Army Lab’s Shipment of Anthrax
    By MATTHEW ROSENBERGJULY 23, 2015
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/24/us/procedures-faulted-in-army-labs-shipment-of-anthrax.html?_r=0

    According to a Pentagon report, the main problem at Dugway was that only about 5 percent of the anthrax samples that the lab irradiated were reviewed to ensure that the virus had been inactivated, a rate far lower than that of similar facilities.

    Mr. Work said the F.B.I. had assisted in the initial Pentagon review. The Army is now engaged in a deeper investigation to determine whether anyone should be held responsible for the failures at Dugway.

    Inactivated anthrax is used for research, and Dugway was the largest producer of such samples in the United States before production was suspended. The Pentagon has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to retrieve live samples sent from Dugway.

  3. DXer said

    Nancy A. Youssef
    WHOOPS07.23.159:26 PM ET
    Pentagon ‘Shocked’ by Anthrax Leak

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/23/pentagon-shocked-by-anthrax-leak.html

    Since 2003, that lab, Dugway Proving Ground, mistakenly sent out live spores around the world 50 percent of the time. …

    “They had a job to produce this, and they ignored safety standards,” Richard Ebright, professor of chemistry and chemical biology at Rutgers University. “They knew from their own results, even with their own flawed quality testing, that it was failing.”

    The reports suggested that officials realized years earlier that attempting to kill anthrax in such large batches with such minimal standards was not working. The DoD officials refused to say why the protocols were not adjusted or who made the decision to keep using them.

    Indeed, it is possible officials at Dugway even lied to those conducting the report.

    Kendall said when investigators asked Dugway about their failure rate, officials there said it was 2-3 percent. When investigators reviewed the records, they found a 21 percent failure rate, or what DoD tried to explain away as a “simple misunderstanding.”

    Kendall said there was no major difference between protocols at Dugway and the other three DoD labs that inactivate anthrax, but did not explain why officials were not examining the remaining facilities.

    Ebright, however, called it “criminally negligent.” …

    To be sure, there are no federal standards for how to kill live anthrax spores, leaving DoD to come up with their own procedures. There is no standard because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has consistently refused to set them. And so the individual institutions, like Dugway, have crafted their own.

    “There is no legitimate military or civilian purpose that requires inactivated anthrax from fully virulent strains,” Ebright said.

  4. DXer said

    US Army Shipped Same Virulent Anthrax Strain Used After 9/11 Attacks
    http://www.military.com/daily-news/2015/07/23/us-army-shipped-same-virulent-anthrax-strain-used-after-911-att.html

    The U.S. Defense Department on Thursday confirmed the live Anthrax samples the Army mistakenly shipped around the world was the same virulent strain used after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. …

    The samples were from the so-called Ames strain, a particularly virulent form of the bacteria used in the 2001 Anthrax attacks. After letters containing the substance were sent to the offices of news media and U.S. lawmakers, five people were killed and 17 others were infected. Bruce Iv[i]ns, a government microbiologist, committed suicide after authorities were preparing to charge him in the case.

    ***

    One of the firms sent it to a subcontractor, which tested the sample, found live bacteria growing and contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it stated.

    ***

    Even so, Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s top weapons official, acknowledged that Dugway officials at first incorrectly reported that just 2-3 percent of the Anthrax samples tested positive for living organisms in verification testing. The actual figure was closer to 30 percent */ — a level that someone should have noticed, he said.

    “That’s a significant difference,” he said. “The technical leadership at Dugway should have understood that.”

    Comment: Ha! Even the sample first discovered to be live was routed through Edgewood, the Maryland biotech company and that company’s subcontractor.

    Vahid Majidi, who relied on the specious process of elimination in ruling out other possibilities, is head of the review committee that just issued the report. Let Dr. Majidi explain why the analysis he relied upon in accusing Dr. Ivins hasn’t been demonstrated to be unreliable.

    Coincidental or not, having him head things is associated with highly truncated conclusions — where the implications were not spooled out further back in time, to the time of the 9/11 mailings.

    The FBI expressly ruled out those labs where the Ames anthrax had undergone irradiation procedures.

    */ As I recall, the figure was 21%.

  5. DXer said

    Pentagon cites ineffective testing in shipping of live anthrax — but still isn’t sure how it happened

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2015/07/23/pentagon-cites-ineffective-testing-in-shipping-of-live-anthrax-but-still-isnt-sure-how-it-happened/
    By Dan Lamothe July 23 at 4:00 PM

    A 38-page report released by the Pentagon on Thursday said that while Dugway is one of several government facilities that store and irradiate live anthrax, the lab is the primary producer of it and other toxins used in research. But the samples it tested were the smallest of all Defense Department laboratories, and tested the soonest after irradiation.

    The review found that it is possible that some anthrax may have been damaged by the gamma rays, but not killed. Given time, it is possible that it could regenerate itself, investigators found.

    ***

    The review also said it cannot be ruled out that live and irradiated anthrax were cross-contaminated. It recommended testing anthrax after irradiation in a different facility than where it is kept beforehand.

  6. DXer said

    “More bad irradiation news” – USAMRIID’s Bruce Ivins found that sometimes samples that had tested negative then upon retesting came up “hot”
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 19, 2015
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/more-bad-irradiation-news-usamriids-bruce-ivins-found-that-sometimes-samples-that-had-tested-negative-then-upon-retesting-came-up-hot/

    Bruce Ivins experienced repeated irradiation failures with virulent Ames anthrax
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 13, 2015
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/bruce-ivins-experienced-repeated-irradiation-failures-with-virulent-ames-anthrax/

    In 2006, Bruce Ivins’ was having Ames irradiated at 4 Mega Rads
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 24, 2015
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/tag/irradiated-anthrax/

    Bruce Ivins at USAMRIID found it amazing that 6 million rads wasn’t killing the spores
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 13, 2015
    https://caseclosedbylewweinstein.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/bruce-ivins-at-usamriid-found-it-amazing-that-6-million-rads-wasnt-killing-the-spores/

  7. DXer said

    Exclusive: Pentagon Blames Anthrax Fiasco on…No One at All by Nancy A. Youssef
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/07/16/pentagon-blames-anthrax-fiasco-on-no-one.html

    The report refers to “scientific uncertainties” in “sample sizes” for testing and in “incubation periods” between irradiation and testing. In other words, Dugway didn’t know exactly how much anthrax it was blasting with gamma rays—or how long the bacteria should sit before scientists examined it.

    But Ebright contends that these “scientific uncertainties” cannot account for the failure of Dugway’s quality control testing to detect that spores still were viable. He notes that Dugway produced hundreds of batches of spores over a decade-long interval and consistently failed to detect live spores. “This massive, consistent failure cannot be accounted for, or explained away by, minor technical issues such as sample sizes and time periods between irradiation and testing,” Ebright said.

    “It is hard to believe testing actually was done. If it was performed, it was performed in an appallingly bad way,” he added.

    The report also noted deficiencies in Dugway’s “aseptic” procedures for keeping unwanted microbes—microbes other than anthrax itself—out of production of anthrax spores. Ebright said sloppiness with sterile techniques at Dugway is not surprising, given the other practices at Dugway, But it does not by itself account for the shipment of live spores.

    Comment: Dr. Ebright yesterday described the report’s conclusion to me as “worse than hot air.” The phrasing arose when another email correspondent used the phrase “hot air” to describe an earlier article in the day about “resistance” to radiation that had developed.

    In contrast to my friend, I think a focus on punishment leads to a truncated exploration of the implications of the report — such as the risk that there were earlier radiation failures given those same “scientific uncertainties.”

    I would rather have documents than scalps any day.

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