Additional security lapses uncovered at CDC facility

Additional security lapses were recently uncovered at a federal bioterror laboratory already under Congressional investigation for safety issues.

The Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has had repeated incidents of security doors left unlocked to an area where experiments are done on dangerous pathogens. In one incident, an unauthorized person was found inside a restricted area, according to USA Today.

Tim Skinner, a CDC spokesman, said that the security door lapses, which occurred in 2009 and 2010, were unacceptable for the agency, but at no time were bioterror agents such as anthrax at risk of being misappropriated.

"The doors in question here are but one layer of multiple layers of security when it comes to both the animals and the agents that are worked on," Skinner said, USA Today reports.

Internal agency emails document doors being left unlocked in the facility's high-containment block, which includes an animal-holding area and Biosafety Level 3 labs.

In one email, a CDC safety manager describes how an unauthorized person was found in the animal holding area. The man, a CDC scientist, was unable to provide details about his presence in a restricted area, according to USA Today.

In a February incident, problems with a BSL-3 lab airflow system caused air to be blown into a "clean" hallway. The problem has prompted the House Energy and Commerce Committee to launch a bipartisan investigation into safety at the CDC.