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Operations Suspended At 3 Md. Labs Due To Anthrax Probe

FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) -- The U.S. Army suspends operations at three Maryland military labs over how they handle anthrax and other toxins. The Pentagon has been investigating sine May, when live anthrax samples were accidentally shipped to labs around the world.

Rick Ritter has the drastic measures.

The Army wants answers on how these labs handle safety procedures and equipment. Until then, some are suspended. Others are under review.

It's an investigation that started three months ago--potentially deadly live anthrax shipped across the country and world.

Now, the Army suspends operations at four Defense Department laboratories--three in Maryland--including Edgewood, Frederick and Fort Detrick.

Those and six other facilities across the U.S. have been ordered to conduct safety reviews as well.

"This is sort of being killed by friendly fire. Our own Defense Department is sending these spores around," said Michael Greenberger, University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security.

It was a private Maryland lab that first reported the active sample in May.

The Pentagon admits the spores were mistakenly sent from a facility in Utah to dozens of labs in 50 states--more than initially thought.

In August, the CDC conducted a spot check at the Edgewood Chemical and Biological Center, concerned about the handling of research materials.

Despite the mishap, no illnesses have been reported.

"No known risk to the general public, and there's no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection," said Colonel Ronald Fizer, U.S. Army spokesman.

But plenty of questions remain unanswered.

Some workers received treatment as a precaution. The Army secretary wants a report ton the reviews within the next ten days.

The other labs under review in the U.S. are in Ohio, Massachusetts, Virginia and Utah.

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