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The Army biowarfare lab that tests pathogens like Ebola and the plague failed a safety inspection
Research at an Army lab that tests infectious diseases like the Ebola virus has been temporarily shut down after a federal agency found safety concerns within the facility, so that's exciting to think about.
Research conducted by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) was halted after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the lab "failed to meet biosafety standards," as first reported by The Frederick News-Post.
The research that has been suspended involves "select agents," the New York Times reports, including the plague, Ebola, smallpox, and other pathogens the government has found to have "the potential to pose a severe threat to public, animal or plant health or to animal or plant products."
The CDC inspected the military research institute in June and found "several areas of concern in standard operating procedures, which are in place to protect workers in biosafety level 3 and 4 laboratories," USAMRIID spokeswoman Caree Vander Linden told the News-Post.
According to the CDC, things studied in a biosafety level 3 lab "can be either indigenous or exotic, and they can cause serious or potentially lethal disease through respiratory transmission."
Biosafety level 4, on the other hand, is the "highest level of biological safety," per the CDC, handling agents which pose the highest risk of infection that is "frequently fatal." At USAMRIID, researchers were working on the Ebola virus in the biosafety level 4 lab.
The CDC found that at the lab lacked periodic recertification training for personnel who worked in the biocontainment laboratories. In addition, there was a "failure to follow local procedures" and a wastewater decontamination system deemed below standards, the News-Post reported.
When the lab received its cease and desist letter in July, researchers were working on agents that cause a rare infectious disease, tularemia, as well as Venezuelan equine encephalitis, per the News-Post.
Oh, and also the plague.
Fortunately, Vander Linden told the Times that while the CDC found leaks, they were inside the lab, meaning that no pathogens has escaped the lab into the outside world.
Employees of the lab are still working on some other projects, according to the Times, just not on those "select agents."
"USAMRIID will return to fully operational status upon meeting benchmark requirements for biosafety," Vander Linden told the News-Post. "We will resume operations when the Army and the CDC are satisfied that USAMRIID can safely and consistently meet all standards."
USAMRIID has not yet responded to additional inquiries from Task & Purpose, but as of now it seems unlikely that society as we know it will be brought to its knees by a pathogen somehow freed from its laboratory prison.
Enjoy your weekend!
The Taliban may not have breached the walls of Bagram, but they damaged the hell out of its main passenger terminal
Blasts from Taliban car bombs outside of Bagram Airfield on Wednesday caused extensive damage to the base's passenger terminal, new pictures released by the 45th Expeditionary Wing show.
The pictures, which are part of a photo essay called "Bagram stands fast," were posted on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service's website on Thursday.
Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.
Shortly after seven sailors died aboard USS Fitzgerald when she collided with a merchant ship off Japan in 2017, I wrote that the Fitzgerald's watch team could have been mine. My ship had once had a close call with me on watch, and I had attempted to explain how such a thing could happen. "Operating ships at sea is hard, and dangerous. Stand enough watches, and you'll have close calls," I wrote at the time. "When the Fitzgerald's investigation comes out, I, for one, will likely be forgiving."
So, am I forgiving? Yes — for some.
Editor's note: a version of this story first appeared in 2015.
Most people haven't heard of an elderly Belgian-Congolese nurse named Augusta Chiwy. But students of history know that adversity and dread can turn on a dime into freedom and change, and it's often the most humble and little-known individuals who are the drivers of it.
During the very darkest days of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, Chiwy was such a catalyst, and hundreds of Americans lived because of her. She died quietly on Aug. 23, 2015, at the age of 94 at her home in Brussels, Belgium, and had it not been for the efforts of my friend — British military historian Martin King — the world may never have heard her astonishing story.
More than $20 million of the Pentagon aid at the center of the impeachment fight still hasn't reached Ukraine.
The continued delay undermines a key argument against impeachment from President Trump's Republican allies and a new legal memo from the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Average pay, housing and subsistence allowances will increase for members of the military in 2020, the Pentagon announced Thursday.