USA Today reported that a CDC study found that anthrax spore killing had not been standardized using control spore samples at Dugway. Tests of different spore concentrations and volumes had not been tested against different radiation doses to ascertain the degree of lethality of the process under varying conditions.
It seems remarkable to me that this could actually go on for ten or more years. But putting my doubts aside, there is another issue: what else was irradiated and shipped out with live pathogens?
All the select agents come to mind, including Ebola, Marburg, and anything else that many US labs are creating defenses against, and for which they are developing better and quicker detection methods. This is a considerable collection of bad bugs. So anthrax aside, what else went out “live” and what happened as a result? Presumably gamma killing of the rest was not standardized or tested either, right?
Why do only anthrax scientists keep getting thrown under the bus?
UPDATE: Great source on Ivins’ emails and the irradiation problem. Ivins thought the problem was due to a new irradiation machine.
An Anonymous made a comment that Dugway is only approved as a BSL 3, not a BSL 4, which is required for work with Ebola and Marburg, and thus they do not work with those viruses. When meaning to approve the comment I erased it by mistake.
I certainly could have been wrong about which pathogens are present at Dugway, but my recollection is that Dugway did have BSL 4 status. However, I think this is based on a document from the 1980s. It comes from an environmental impact statement for a proposed lab, which is discussed in this book. However, I also find links to army statements that Dugway has only BSL 3 labs. USA Today claims there is a BSL-4 at Dugway. It seems I can’t resolve the discrepancy tonight.
My original point stands, which is that if Dugway’s gamma irradiation did not inactivate all anthrax spores, the gamma irradiation of other pathogens was likely inadequate as well.
UPDATE September 9, 2015: USAT reported that Congressmembers were concerned:
“that the Pentagon’s problems containing live anthrax spores could extend to other lethal toxins that could be used as weapons against troops and civilians, members of Congress and their staff told USA TODAY… The worry is that procedures that did not contain anthrax won’t prevent the escape of other toxins the labs study, said a senior Capitol Hill staffer who studies the issue but spoke on condition of anonymity because staff members are not authorized to speak publicly about it. Those toxins include chemical and biological agents the military fears could be turned into a weapon…“