The Pentagon has admitted that a US Army lab accidentally shipped live anthrax to at least 192 laboratories over the past decade. The figure is more than double the number the agency reported in June.
The agency said on Monday that the list now includes labs in all 50 states, as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Washington, DC. The labs received live anthrax because of ineffective sterilization methods for killing the deadly bacteria.
Seven foreign countries also received the shipments, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, and the UK, according to the Department of Defense’s Laboratory Review site.
“It’s déjà vu all over again,” said US Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pennsylvania), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, referring to the new count at a Tuesday hearing, according to USA Today.
“What we have here is a pattern of recurring issues, of complacency, and a lax culture of safety,” he said.
Among the labs receiving multiple violation letters is the US Army’s Dugway Proving Ground facility in Utah, which is at the center of the international scandal over its shipment of live anthrax.
The Defense Department originally claimed in May that it accidentally sent live anthrax samples to labs in nine states and South Korea. By June, however, more than 51 labs in 17 states were reported as having received anthrax accidentally, as were labs in three foreign countries.
A Pentagon investigation into the incident released last week could not determine the root cause of the mistaken shipments.
The Department of Defense is working to develop standards for the handling and deactivation of anthrax pathogens. Until that process is completed, the agency’s deputy secretary, Bob Work, said a complete moratorium on the production and transport of anthrax has been imposed.