A dozen facing discipline at Dugway for inadvertent shipments of live anthrax

Posted at 9:12 PM, Jan 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-15 23:22:53-05

TOOELE COUNTY, Utah -- Deliveries of deadly live anthrax were inadvertently shipped to labs around the world for a decade, all stemming from a Utah facility.

Friday, the US Army released a brutal report on their investigation into the Dugway Proving Ground, and a general and 11 other employees are facing disciplinary action.

The Department of Defense stopped shipments of anthrax when the scandal broke last May. Shipments with samples of anthrax believed to be dead were tested and found to contain live anthrax, which is supposed to shipped under more rigorous conditions than dead samples.

"Let me be perfectly clear -- there was no evidence to suggest in any way, shape or form that lab technicians or the American public were at risk at any time,” said Army Maj. Gen Paul A. Ostrowski.

Major General Ostrowski led the 6-month investigation into the shipments from Dugway. The facility was shut down last May when a lab in Maryland found live spores of anthrax in a sample from the Utah facility. The investigation confirms Dugway Proving Ground shipped live anthrax to 194 labs, and the report indicates several factors were to blame.

"No single event, no single individual, no groups of individuals are directly responsible for the inadvertent shipment of a small amount of active anthrax, or bacillus antracis,” Ostrowski said.

Army investigators are pointing a majority of the blame at a one-star general and nearly a dozen other people for leadership failures at Dugway.

The 157-page investigation stated, "rather than investigating themselves or ordering disciplinary action, the Dugway leaders instead blamed external entities or downplayed the seriousness of the incidents in reports to higher headquarters."

Ostrowski said: "We did find through evidence that a combination of events, including gaps in science, institutional issues, and personal accountability--when taken together--each contributed to this event."

Despite the mistake, the Pentagon says no one was or is in danger.

"We have a very high degree of confidence that we have found all of these samples and they have been destroyed," said Army Lt. Gen. Thomas W. Spoehr.

The production mission will no longer be done at Dugway. Reports state the General and 11 other lab employees will face discipline.