Ten punished in Army scandal at anthrax lab

- Tom Vanden Brook

Leadership at the Dugway Proving Grounds lab “created conditions allowing a culture of complacenc­y to flourish.” Army report

The Army discipline­d 10 of 12 civilian and military personnel deemed responsibl­e for the poor laboratory practices and the “culture of complacenc­y” that led to the bungled shipments of deadly anthrax samples to 50 states and nine foreign countries.

The Army took action against nine of 10 civilians and one of two Army officers found responsibl­e last year for the lapses at the Dugway Proving Grounds lab in Utah. The Army did not disclose the nature of the discipline, citing privacy concerns, said Col. Pat Seiber, a spokesman. The discipline was meted out in the past month, about five months after the Army issued a harsh report on lab practices and poor oversight at Dugway.

Brig. Gen. William King, the most senior official found responsibl­e for the lapses, remains head of the 20th Chemical, Biological, Radiologic­al, Nuclear and Explosives command at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland. King was the only person named in the report. “Action is currently pending against Brig. Gen. King,” Seiber said.

In January, senior Army officials said the discipline for those implicated could range from retraining to firing.

The Army’s report did not attribute the errant shipments over a decade to an individual or group. Instead it found that leadership at Dugway “created conditions allowing a culture of complacenc­y to flourish,” according to the report. “As a result, laboratory personnel did not always follow rules, regulation­s and procedures.”

No one was sickened by the shipments. Dugway’s failure to kill anthrax specimens with radiation went undetected until a private firm discovered last year that some the samples it had received had spores that could still grow.

The report said King “repeatedly deflected blame and minimized the severity of incidents,” adding that he “lacks introspect­ion and fails to recognize the scope and severity of the incidents that occurred during his command.”

At the time of the report, King released a statement saying he considered the safety of those under his command a top priority and was cooperatin­g with the investigat­ion. Army Secretary Eric Fanning will receive a report in coming weeks, Seiber said.

 ?? CDC ?? Anthrax samples were shipped to 50 states.
CDC Anthrax samples were shipped to 50 states.

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