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

* USA TODAY: IMMEDIATE FREEZE ordered on operations at nine biodefense laboratories

Posted by DXer on September 4, 2015

Pentagon finds more safety issues at labs
Tom Vanden Brook and Alison Young, USA TODAY 4:19 p.m. EDT September 3, 2015

The discovery of live anthrax outside a containment area at a military lab in Utah has prompted military officials to order an immediate freeze on operations at nine biodefense laboratories that work with dangerous viruses, toxins and bacteria, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

The moratorium, first reported by USA TODAY, comes after officials took a detailed look at policies and procedures at the labs and found them wanting, according to Defense officials.


Dugway officials, in testing surfaces in their laboratories, detected anthrax bacteria on the floors of two rooms where staff had worked with the deadly pathogen.  “If proper biosafety procedures had been followed, these surfaces should have been free of the agent,” the CDC said in a statement in response to questions from USA TODAY.  “Following the suspension, the Department of Defense has begun an immediate safety review at all DoD labs and facilities involved in production, shipment, and handling of live and inactivated select agents and toxins.”


The review calls for the military labs to ensure that personnel are properly trained on lab safety procedures and that necessary maintenance is conducted on biosafety level 3 lab facilities that work with some of the most dangerous pathogens. It also calls for validating record-keeping and inventories of the military’s “Critical Reagents Program” — including “ensuring that all materials associated with the CRP are properly accounted for.”


The memo calls for several of the labs to cease production and handling of any materials associated with the Critical Reagents Program.

4 Responses to “* USA TODAY: IMMEDIATE FREEZE ordered on operations at nine biodefense laboratories”

  1. DXer said

    The Scientist »
    The Nutshell

    DoD Under Investigation for Pathogen-Handling Mistakes

    US Defense Department labs are the subject of inquiry following several safety breaches concerning the handling of deadly bacteria and virus strains.

    By Jef Akst | September 16, 2015

    Culture of Bacillus anthracisWIKIMEDIA, US ARMYThe US Army is investigating the Department of Defense (DoD) following the mishandling of anthrax, smallpox virus, and H5N1—all since summer 2014. Most recently, in May a US Army lab in Utah inadvertently shipped live anthrax spores to dozens of labs. The incident prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to check in with other DoD labs, which revealed contamination within the Utah lab: the deadly bacterium was found outside the primary containment area.

    The area has been fully decontaminated, and the DoD has said there is no evidence that any employees were exposed or that the public is at risk, but the incident drove Secretary of the Army John McHugh to freeze operations at all DoD labs that involved in the production and shipment of select agents and toxins, USA Today reported, and to direct a direct an immediate safety review at the facilities to ensure that proper protocols are followed. Each lab is to report back within 10 days, according to a DoD press release.

    The agencies’ responses “demonstrate how seriously both organizations take incidents involving select agents,” CDC spokesman Jason McDonald told The New York Times in an email. “We accept there will always be some risk in the laboratory work CDC and others do to protect Americans, but our goal is to eliminate unnecessary risk and reduce unavoidable risk. That is why labs in the select agent program have numerous, redundant systems to ensure there are many layers of protection between the work done in labs and the general public.”

  2. DXer said

    The irradiated Ames samples seized by FBI in 2007 were not tested as part of DOD review (of USAMRIID, Edgewood and Dugway)

    I believe they would have been taken to NMRC where the FBI Laboratory would have been stored.

    By only testing irradiated samples shipped post-2001, the DOD (guided by former FBI honchos Christian Hassell and Vahid Majidi) is avoiding the necessary implications of the FBI’s analysis which asssumed irradiation was 100% effective.

    The science didn’t suddenly become uncertain. Ivins himself repeatedly had irradiation problems.

    The irradiated Ames that Bruce Ivins distributed to numerous other researchers was not available for the recent DOD review conducted at USAMRIID because it had been removed from USAMRIID by the FBI in November 2007
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 4, 2015

    Dugway anthrax – Will it take Congressional subpoena power to fill in the blanks in the email asking about weaponized anthrax that came to Detrick via FedEx and then was shipped out and some was missing?
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 29, 2015

    Bruce Ivins experienced repeated irradiation failures with virulent Ames anthrax
    Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 13, 2015

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