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Pentagon launches lab review, widens moratorium after anthrax find

2015-09-03 2
   
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résuméWASHINGTON The Pentagon has launched a safety review at nine U.S. military labs and expanded a moratorium on the production and shipment of deadly toxins after anthrax contamination was discovered in a Utah facility. The contamination at the Dugway P
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Pentagon launches lab review, widens moratorium after anthrax find


WASHINGTON The Pentagon has launched a safety review at nine U.S. military labs and expanded a moratorium on the production and shipment of deadly toxins after anthrax contamination was discovered in a Utah facility.

The contamination at the Dugway Proving Ground Life

Sciences Test Facility in Utah was in "secure areas located outside the primary containment area," the Pentagon said in a statement on Thursday. The lab conducted a full decontamination and did not detect anthrax during re-testing.

Specifically, the deadly anthrax bacteria was found on the floors of two laboratories, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement.

"If proper biosafety procedures had been followed, these surfaces should have been free of the agent," it said, adding there was no public health risk.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh on Wednesday directed all nine Department of Defense labs and facilities involved "in the production, shipment, and handling of live and inactivated select agents and toxins" to conduct safety reviews immediately, according to the Pentagon.

The Army had already suspended production, handling, testing and shipment of anthrax at all four Defense laboratories that work with the bacteria. Now, that moratorium extends to critical reagents and other agents and toxins, the statement said.

Alongside Dugway, the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, and the Naval Medical Research Center Biological Defense Research Directorate are involved in anthrax research, according to the Defense Department.

In late May, officials discovered live anthrax had been shipped to researchers in the United States and other countries and in July the Pentagon said the error exposed major problems in how it handles the killer bacteria.

The Defense Department then conducted a comprehensive review of its policies and procedures on anthrax, which led to an ongoing investigation at Dugway. The Pentagon said the CDC had also found incorrect and incomplete record keeping at Edgewood and the infectious diseases institute.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert; Additional reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Sandra Maler and Doina Chiacu)

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