Bioterrorism Lab of CDC In ATL Under Investigation For Security Lapses
(throws biohazard suit on while typing) Congress is currently investigating the Atlanta branch of the Center for Disease Control for multiple incidents of safety hazards stemming from unsecured doors in high risk zones of the laboratories. Yup. You read that right.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spokesman says the unsecured door incidents in 2010 and 2009 inside its Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory in Atlanta were “not an acceptable practice of the agency.” At no time, though, were bioterror organisms such as anthrax at risk of falling into the wrong hands, he said.
“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,” CDC spokesman Tom Skinner said. “The security measures we have in place, without going into detail, make it close to impossible for anyone who doesn’t have approved access to the agents to get their hands on them.” – USA Today
I’ve got to call shenanigans on Mr. Spokesman. That sounds like jargon anyone would say who’s trying to cover his/her ass right before sh*t hits the fan. USA Today delved even deeper by unveiling some information regarding the security lapses. The doors that were unlocked were level 3 labs where experiments with microbes such as Anthrax, monkeypox, SARS, and dangerous strains of influenza were held. Not to mention the test animals being held in the same area. Rage Virus anyone? An email by a safety manager revealed that an unauthorized person was found in the unlocked areas, which sounds mighty suspicious. This person was a CDC scientist, but there’s no explanation as to why this dude was there in the first place. Someone better check his bank account to make sure he’s not getting paid off to steal some bioweapons.
E-mails written by CDC Safety and Occupational Health manager Patrick Stockton indicate the lab has had security lapses that Rutgers University biosafety expert Richard Ebright said may be a “major violation” of security standards for labs that work with potential bioterror agents.
Ebright, of Rutgers University, expressed concern about the repeated issues revealed in news reports about Building 18 since the $214 million building opened in 2005, including articles in 2007 about backup generators that failed to keep airflow systems working during a power outage, and in 2008 about a high-containment lab door that the CDC sealed with duct tape after an incident where an airflow system malfunctioned and sent potentially contaminated air into a “clean” corridor.
The “documents you have obtained over the past several years make it clear that there has been a pattern of corner-cutting and negligence at CDC biocontainment facilities —starting with the failure to include provisions for emergency backup power, and encompassing inadequate door seals, improper airflow, jury-rigged repairs, and unsecured access points,” Ebright said.
If the security issues described in Stockton’s 2010 e-mail continue and bioterror agents are being used in that area, Ebright said, “then heads should fall.”
The CDC currently is responsible for inspecting the safety and security of its labs that work with bioterror agents. Skinner said CDC has a 66-year record of operating its labs safely.
More like had a 66-year record of safe operating. There’s definitely more than a few lapses at work in Atlanta. Unlocked doors, unauthorized entry, and even jimmy rigged repairs on dangerous areas seem like a cocktail for disaster. If not for the zombie apocalypse then perhaps the release of a microbe that could devastate America and possibly the rest of the world. The fact that these issues weren’t more widely generated across media outlets concerns me. God forbid our airwaves aren’t overcome by REAL news instead of bipartisan bickering.