US Bioterror Labs Rife With Risks: Reports
And virus vial goes missing at one lab
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2013 9:20 AM CDT
Anthrax   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Not one, but two disturbing recent government reports say the risk of accidents is increasing at US labs researching potential bioterror weapons such as anthrax. Federal officials have yet to develop national standards for their design, construction, and operation, which the Government Accountability Office called for more than three years ago. The GAO report, out today, comes as a vial containing a potentially harmful virus went missing at a University of Texas lab. The vial, containing less than a quarter of a teaspoon of an infectious disease known as Guanarito, had been stored in a locked freezer, the Houston Chronicle reports. It was discovered missing during a routine inspection, but officials don't think it was stolen, and say they aren't worried it will pose a risk.

A government audit from November also found that officials failed to detect security and safety violations at such labs during inspections, USA Today reports. Some worrying incidents from that report from the USDA inspector general auditors:

  • Anthrax and plague were transferred to an unauthorized facility without officials detecting it.
  • Workers at various facilities were allowed to keep working even after their security risk assessments expired.
USDA officials, however, downplayed the significance of the report and did not accept many of the recommendations. USA Today has more on the troubling history of problems at US labs.

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Showing 3 of 14 comments
Mar 25, 2013 10:39 PM CDT
Mar 25, 2013 8:05 PM CDT
One step closer to Z day, yes... yess.....
Mar 25, 2013 1:27 PM CDT
They're not researching threats, they're creating them. There should only be one research location and it should be out in the Nevada desert somewhere, with tons of security. Forget this multiple location crap. It's an accident waiting to happen, or even an intentional release waiting to happen. So when one of these horrible plagues get released, who here would want to be unarmed and unprepared?