By mistake and negligence an army lab has shipped live anthrax to 194 research labs in all the U.S. states and also nine other countries over a period of two years.
According to a report released on Friday, one-star General William E. King who was the commander of Dugway Proving Ground lab in Utah from 2009 to 2011 and 11 other workers at the army biodefense laboratory are accused of mistakenly shipping live anthrax to other research facilities, including commercial labs.
King, who was a colonel at that time, is also blamed of perpetuating a complacent atmosphere among the lab workers and also for repeatedly deflecting blame for some failures and of minimizing the severity of some incidents.
The fact that Dugway was shipping live anthrax was discovered very late, after almost two years, when a Maryland commercial lab tested the anthrax received from the military facility and found live bacteria, which wasn’t supposed to be there. The bacteria should have been killed at Dugway and shipped in its inactive state. But as a result of negligence the live anthrax has been shipped to almost 200 laboratories in the U.S. and other countries.
The fact that the army facility has been shipping live anthrax has been disclosed in May 2015. Since then, army officials and investigators have been working on the report issued on Friday. The reports states that serious breaches of regulations lead to the situation. However, it also says that the live anthrax wasn’t a risk to public health as significant safeguards made sure that the unintended shipments weren’t a threat.
Dugway is a military lab which works with chemical and biological agents, producing the largest quantities of anthrax for hundreds of other research labs.
According to the report the blame for shipping live anthrax does not belong to an individual but King and the 11 workers should be held accountable for this huge failure. Up to this moment no disciplinary sanctions have been imposed to any of them.
On the contrary, after living the Dugway facility King has been promoted to the rank of brigadier general and now he commends the 20th Biological, Chemical, Nuclear, Radiological, Explosive command.
However military sanctions may be imposed as the report concludes that King has failed in his duties to think strategically and to realize that the mistakes made during his commend of the Dugway facility had important safety implications.
Image source: pixabay