A leaked Army investigation into Anthrax leaks at USAMRIID, Fort Detrick has revealed that spores of the deadly bacteria were found in offices, a
changing room and laboratories.
The report says more long term contamination was in part caused by a culture of complacency.
The leak of Anthrax was discovered by a worker who decided not to report it. He did this to prevent the leak becoming public knowledge through the
release of documents via the Freedom of Information Act.
Report details anthrax leaks at Army lab
Institute was investigating 2001 mailings
By CHARLES PILLER
Los Angeles Times
WHAT WAS FOUND
Three different strains: Two infectious strains of anthrax and one harmless vaccine were detected outside biosafety labs. The contamination was
worrisome because office workers, unlike scientists, were not always vaccinated against anthrax.
An Army investigation into anthrax contamination outside secure labs at the United States' chief biodefense research facility blames cavalier
attitudes for the safety breach.
The anthrax leaks were detected in April 2002 at the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md. Officials at the
facility, which served as the chief forensic lab for the 2001 anthrax mailings that killed five people, revamped security and safety rules last
Discovery of the leaks caused a brief scare in nearby Frederick, Md., when it was thought a local laundry contractor could have handled contaminated
garments. No one became ill.
Army report raises doubts
The Army report, obtained Thursday by the Los Angeles Times, showed that some researchers at the facility doubted its commitment to biosafety.
"The safety program may be more about insulating the institute from criticism than from protecting the workers," one lab supervisor told a military
investigator in the detailed report completed in May 2002 and just released under the Freedom of Information Act.
The leaks were detected by a researcher who was conducting independent tests outside the chain of command, triggering the investigation.
"Other workers have mentioned that they might not report (lapses) in the future because of fallout from this episode," the supervisor said. "I
think there's a serious problem."
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The fact that a scientist working with anthrax would try to cover up a potentially serious leak because he didn't want it to become public knowledge
shows a severe disregard for public safety. As the report mentions the laundry for the workers at Fort Detrick was carried out by an outside
contractor. By not alerting the authorities this Fort Detrick scientist put the residents of Frederick, Maryland at unnecessary risk.
[edit on 21-8-2004 by John bull 1]