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Topic: CDC Bioterror Labs< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 8:45 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Laboratories at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been repeatedly cited in private government audits for failing to properly secure potential bioterror agents such as anthrax and plague, and not training employees who work with them, according to "restricted" government watchdog reports obtained by USA TODAY.


http://www.usatoday.com/story....=206567


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 26 2013, 9:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Skipping compliance training is both dumb and lazy. That's what computerization is for.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 7:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just wonder why they are allowed to get REPEATED violations for failing to secure anthrax! Shouldn't there be a zero tolerance on something so serious. Or maybe it would be a good thing if some "terrorists" got their hands on it. Hard to know the reason for such tolerance.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 8:29 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Montecresto @ Feb. 27 2013, 7:19 am)
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Or maybe it would be a good thing if some "terrorists" got their hands on it.

They already have. Remember:

The 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States, also known as Amerithrax from its Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) case name, occurred over the course of several weeks beginning on Tuesday, September 18, 2001, one week after the September 11 attacks. Letters containing anthrax spores were mailed to several news media offices and two Democratic U.S. Senators, killing five people and infecting 17 others.

Another suspect, Bruce Edwards Ivins, became a focus of investigation around April 4, 2005. Ivins was a scientist who worked at the government's biodefense labs at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. On July 27, 2008, Ivins took an intentional overdose of acetaminophen and died two days later in a hospital.
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Ivins's death leaves two unanswered puzzles. Scientists familiar with germ warfare said there was no evidence that he had the skills to turn anthrax into an inhalable powder. According to Alan Zelicoff who aided the F.B.I. investigation "I don't think a vaccine specialist could do it . . . This is aerosol physics, not biology".[125]

On August 6, 2008, federal prosecutors declared Ivins to be the sole culprit of the crime when Jeffrey Taylor, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia laid out the case against Ivins to the public. The main evidence is already in dispute. Taylor stated "The genetically unique parent material of the anthrax spores . . . was created and solely maintained by Dr. Ivins." But other experts disagree, including biological warfare and anthrax expert, Meryl Nass, who stated: "Let me reiterate: No matter how good the microbial forensics may be, they can only, at best, link the anthrax to a particular strain and lab. They cannot link it to any individual." At least 10 scientists had regular access to the laboratory and its anthrax stock, and possibly quite a few more, counting visitors from other institutions, and workers at laboratories in Ohio and New Mexico that had received anthrax samples from the flask. The FBI later claimed to have identified 419 people at Fort Detrick and other locations who had access to the lab where flask RMR-1029 was stored, or who had received samples from flask RMR-1029.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_anthrax_attacks


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 8:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If CDC were a corporation, I wonder what the OSHA fine would be?

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 12:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

OSHA? Possibly not much at all. A failure to comply with every detail of a regulation doesn't necessarily equate to a failure to secure hazardous material. which is where the large penalties would be imposed.

One of the issues was noted that security keycards access was controlled in groups of rooms that was too large: that can be a problem but it's not the same thing as a vulnerable facility.

A specific example: This morning I keyed four separate electronic doors to get to my lab. Now the letter of the radioactive materials regulations states that unless someone is physically standing at the bench working with radioactive material it must be secured in a locked and tethered cabinet or box. So some one walking away from their bench to get the rest of their experiment's materials and leaving the labeled stock vial behind on their bench would be a violation of the regulation and would be so noted were our quarterly inspectors to observe that: but behind four separately controlled electronically  locked doors it would not be at all a failure of security.

And especially in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 a lot of overly broad biohazard regulations came down from the federal government. For instance they didn't, at first, have any recognition that amount mattered: so having a few millionths of a gram of a listed material was treated exactly the same way having a kilogram would be: and research labs tend to the millionths of a gram end of things yet we all got the same memos.... and until they'd worked out the details over the course of years the by-the-book compliance was burdensome and did not in any way increase public safety.

Technical errors in compliance should be cleared up, but, IMHO, the better approach is solve the problem and not "gotcha". In that spirit I just last week completed my annual profile of what I do so the compliance system can assign the appropriate regulatory/safety training: all of which will be delivered online and monitored for completion with notices sent to my department head just like everyone's status in my lab is sent to me. Making training compliance easy and simply managed. For any ahgency dealing with pathogens (we don't) that should be standard.

And zero tolerance is only attractive as it involves zero thought or judgement. Rarely productive.
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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 1:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sorry... I wasn't clear. This was the section I was referring to:

Failing to ensure that those working with and around potential bioterror agents have received required training. The 2010 report says auditors couldn't verify that 10 of 30 employees sampled had the required training. The 2009 report says the labs "did not provide biosafety and security training to 88 of 168 approved individuals" before they were given access to work areas for bioterror agents

There would be OSHA fines a-plenty for 98 safety training violations at a corporation, as they are the epitome of a zero-tolerance policy.

BTW, it's been my experience that universities as a whole are the most compliant group. Much better than government agencies.

Ha! I literally just received an e-mail from a collegue who works for OSHA regarding a totally different subject! :D

ETA: My OSHA collegue reviewed the article and said "It would all depend on if they were willful, egregious, serious, how many standards were cited, and if they were grouped.  One serious could be up to 7K, one willful could be up to 70K, and egregious could be one penalty per instance, into the millions (like BP after the refinery explosions)"


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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 27 2013, 1:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(WalksWithBlackflies @ Feb. 27 2013, 10:12 am)
QUOTE
Sorry... I wasn't clear. This was the section I was referring to:

Failing to ensure that those working with and around potential bioterror agents have received required training. The 2010 report says auditors couldn't verify that 10 of 30 employees sampled had the required training. The 2009 report says the labs "did not provide biosafety and security training to 88 of 168 approved individuals" before they were given access to work areas for bioterror agents

There would be OSHA fines a-plenty for 98 safety training violations at a corporation, as they are the epitome of a zero-tolerance policy.

BTW, it's been my experience that universities as a whole are the most compliant group. Much better than government agencies.

Ha! I literally just received an e-mail from a collegue who works for OSHA! :D

ETA: My OSHA collegue said "It would all depend on if they were willful, egregious, serious, how many standards were cited, and if they were grouped.  One serious could be up to 7K, one willful could be up to 70K, and egregious could be one penalty per instance, into the millions (like BP after the refinery explosions)"

Ah and yes that's the part I find exhibits both them being lazy and foolish since training compliance is just about purely an attitude issue since it's an easy thing to actually DO and so that would seem to me to prove "willful" right there. But then I'm a big believer in refresher training: and so think yearly or so automobile driver refresher training/testing would be great thing. Now there's where we'd save lives, not whether my 5 micrograms of Cono-toxin is archived, locked up and secured from non-citizens.... (though that's Homeland Security not OSHA....)
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