Pentagon orders review after finding more labs received live anthrax

Pentagon orders review after finding more labs received live anthrax
© Getty Images

The Pentagon announced Friday it has identified additional labs that it accidentally sent live anthrax samples to, prompting Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work to order a review of all Pentagon laboratories. 

"As of now, 24 laboratories in 11 states and two foreign countries are believed to have received suspect samples," a Pentagon statement said. 

On Wednesday, defense officials said a military lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah accidentally sent live anthrax samples to labs in nine states, and to the Osan Air Base in South Korea. 

ADVERTISEMENT

On Friday, Reuters reported that a live sample was also sent in 2008 to Australia. 

"We continue to work closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who is leading the ongoing investigation pursuit to its statutory authorities," the Pentagon statement said.  

Work ordered the review after consulting with Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who is meeting with officials in East Asia. 

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall is leading the review, which will look into the "root cause" of the incomplete inactivation of the pathogen. 

It will also examine Defense laboratory biohazard safety procedures and protocols, laboratory adherence to established procedures and protocols, and identification of systemic problems and the steps necessary to fix those problems.

Work also advised all labs that received anthrax samples from the Pentagon to stop working with the samples under further instruction from the Defense Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"There is no known risk to the general public and an extremely low risk to lab workers from the department's inadvertent shipments of inactivated samples containing small numbers of live anthrax to several laboratories," the statement said. 

The CDC announced an investigation into the accidental shippings Friday, but the Pentagon said it would also conduct its own afterwards. 

"After the CDC investigation is complete, the department will conduct its own investigation with respect to any apparent lapses in performance and ensure appropriate accountability," the statement said. 

"The department takes this matter very seriously and is acting with urgency to address this matter and Work expects review findings within 30 days."