Scientists says Ivins couldn't be source of Amerithrax attacks

A National Academy of Sciences panel was told by a former Army microbiologist who worked with Bruce Ivins, the man blamed for the 2001 anthrax attacks that five Americans, that he believed it was impossible for Dr. Ivins' laboratory to produce the deadly spores as the FBI claims.

The microbiologist, Henry S. Heine, said that he did not believe there was any chance that Ivins, who committed suicide in 2008, committed the attacks. "Among the senior scientists," Heine told, "no one believes it."

The 16 member panel, which has been tasked with reviewing the FBI's scientific work on the investigation, was informed by Heine that to produce the quantity of spores contained in the letter, at least one year of intensive work would be required with the army lab's equipment. Colleagues would have noticed an effort of that magnitude, Heine said, adding that lab technicians who worked with Ivins saw no such work.

Biological containment measures, Heine told the panel, were inadequate at the lab to prevent aerosolized anthrax spores from floating out of the lab into animal cages and offices.

“You’d have had dead animals or dead people,” Heine said.

The FBI said in its written summation of the case that Ivins' lab technicians grew anthrax spores that they incorrectly believed were added to Ivins' main supply flask. According to the summary, the spores were not added to the flask and could have been diverted for the purpose of the letters.