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Egregious safety failures at Army lab led to anthrax mistakes

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Errors at army lab led to anthraz failuresA brigadier general who led an Army biodefense lab in Utah is among a dozen individuals facing potential disciplinary actions — including loss of jobs — for egregious failures that contributed to the facility mistakenly shipping live anthrax to other labs for more than a decade, according to the military’s accountability investigation report that was provided to USA TODAY.

“Over time, you see there is complacency that the leadership should have recognized and taken action to correct,” Maj. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, who led the review team, said in an interview.

The review found that top officials at the Dugway Proving Ground southwest of Salt Lake City had multiple warning signs of scientific and safety problems, yet they failed to take action despite earlier, serious incidents in the facility’s labs during 2007-2011 involving anthrax, VX chemical nerve agent and poisonous Botulinum neurotoxin A.

“This complacent atmosphere resulted in an organization plagued by mistakes and unable to identify systemic issues in the high-risk, zero-defects world of biological select agents and toxins,” the report said.

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