Watch CBSN Live

Military admits more live anthrax shipments

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon says that it has identified five additional live anthrax shipments, including one that went to Australia and one to an unnamed additional state.

This is beyond the previously reported shipment that went to nine labs, reports CBS News' Margaret Brennan. The Pentagon has ordered a review of all Department of Defense labs.

Pentagon shipped live Anthrax sample to nine states and South Korea

"During our initial look into how live Anthrax samples were inadvertently shipped to laboratories, the Department identified additional inadvertent live anthrax shipments. These shipments went to 9 Labs - 5 additional from our initial announcement, which includes one additional state and one additional foreign country (Australia)," the Pentagon said in a statement Friday.

As a result, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work has ordered a review of all Department of Defense labs.

Details of the Australia case were sketchy Friday, but it suggested more extensive flaws in procedures used by the Army's Dugway Proving Ground in the state of Utah to ensure that anthrax samples were made fully inert before shipping them to labs.

Dugway, in a desolate stretch of the Utah desert, has been testing chemical weapons since it opened in 1942.

Prior to word of the Australia shipment, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said suspect samples from Dugway had been sent to 18 labs in nine U.S. states and a military base in South Korea. CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said the agency is testing to see which ones were live.

The results are coming in slowly, she said, and the first full set of findings isn't expected until next week. It was unclear Friday whether the Pentagon would take additional steps to investigate on its own or review Dugway's procedures.

A Wisconsin commercial laboratory, meanwhile, confirmed Friday it was among the labs that received live anthrax spores last week. BBI Detection of Madison, which employs fewer than 20 people, remains partially closed. No employees have gotten sick or are in danger, and there is no danger to the public, said Jackie Lustig, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts-based Alere Inc., which owns BBI.

Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee penned separate letters Thursday to CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden and to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, saying the panel was "troubled" by the anthrax shipment and that it wanted briefings from the two government agencies.

"The Department's inadvertent transfer of live anthrax samples, just like similar incidents at the CDC last year, raise serious safety concerns about the sufficiency of inactivation protocols and procedures for studying dangerous pathogens," committee chair Fred Upton, R-Michigan, wrote.

The letter, signed by a bipartisan group of members of the committee, set a deadline of June 5 for briefings by the CDC and Pentagon.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, sent his own letter to the Secretary of the Army John McHugh, criticizing the Pentagon for its "breach of trust" and requesting a briefing for his Senate staff.

"This incident represents a serious breach of trust in the United States Army's obligation to keep our citizens and service members safe," Nelson wrote. "Moreover, the shipments to a South Korea air base weaken the United States' credibility as a global leader in chemical weapons control."

View CBS News In