CDC: Labs that work with potential bioweapons not required to share info with the public

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, labs that work with hazardous substances such as Ebola and smallpox do not have to share specific information with the public.

Members of the Frederick, Maryland-based Containment Lab Community Advisory Committee invited the CDC to make a presentation during a meeting due to the existence of multiple facilities at the nearby Fort Detrick. Ray Hunter, a member of the committee, said that there is concern that private or nongovernmental labs could work with such substances without informing the public, the Frederick News Post reports.

"We're dealing with a trust issue," Hunter said, according to the Frederick News Post. "I don't know why, for the life of me, certain performance indicators cannot be made available to the public."

Robbin Weyant, the director of the division of the select agents and toxins, said that there were 365 facilities registered to work with or transport such hazardous materials as of March 1 in the United States. Some facilities are inspected annually while others are inspected every 18 to 24 months. CDC officials would not say how many of these containment labs are in Frederick County.

"It's not information that we generally share," Weyant said, according to the Frederick News Post.

Residents and committee members fear that a lack of transparency could lead to learning about safety problems in the labs that could endanger the public after the fact.

"We're not allowed to know who they are or where they are until they make a mistake," Roxanne Beal, another committee member, said, according to the Frederick News Post.