Army reassures public after accidental anthrax shipment

The U.S. Army has reassured the public concerning safety procedures after the accidental anthrax shipment.
The U.S. Army periodically ships small amounts of anthrax that are used to test U.S. equipment made to detect bioterrorism threats.

The Army released information showing that these anthrax samples don't pose any threat to the general public, after inadvertently shipping live anthrax spores to multiple laboratories.

“We did find through evidence that a combination of events including gaps in science, institutional issues and personal accountability, when taken together, each contributed to this event,” Army Major General Paul Ostrowski said.

Ostrowski was the head investigator regarding the shipments of anthrax, which weren't meant to be shipped at all, he said.

The anthrax shipments originated in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, according to Ostrowski and his team of investigators. The lab at that location sent out more than 180 samples of questionable material to nine countries and all 50 states.

“We will establish a standing DoD biological safety review panel, consisting of prominent scientists from both within and outside of the Department of Defense, and that review panel will review and validate procedures for working with biological select agents and toxins,” Army Lieutenant General Thomas Spoehr said.

The Department of Defense (DoD) will also put in a screening process for bio-products that come in from outside sources.

“We have -- and are -- in the process of developing new DoD procedures for the inactivation and testing of bacillus athracis, which, when the underlying scientific research is completed … will serve as our single DoD and Centers for Disease Control validated procedure,” Spoehr said.

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