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U.S. Attorney To Conduct Investigation Of Legionnaires' Outbreak

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- U.S. Attorney David Hickton says he intends to conduct his own investigation of the Legionnaire's disease outbreak at local veterans hospitals.

He issued this statement:
"An active investigation is underway by the inspector general. We have been in communications with the inspector general to share our interest and to offer resources. After the report of the inspector general has been completed, we will conduct our own independent review and take appropriate action as necessary."

Hickton's announcement comes as the Veterans Administration acknowledged that they had flushed their water systems for bacteria this past Sunday in what the VA says is a pre-planned mitigation effort done every three months.

Sen. Bob Casey said Friday all parties should be more transparent.

"People in this region need to know what happened, and especially the families need to know," Casey told KDKA's Jon Delano.

Casey wants the VA to make public the full 56-page report from the Centers for Disease Control.

"We've a report now from the Centers for Disease Control. I wrote to [VA] Secretary Shinseki saying yesterday that that should be made public. They should."

Casey had earlier requested the Inspectors General investigation.

"That report will be out no later than the end of March, and we'll get a lot of questions answered within that report," Sen. Casey said. "That's vital to find out what happened, why it happened, why this agency -- meaning the VA -- couldn't prevent this from happening, or couldn't prevent it from getting worse."

Whether there is any criminality involved will be up to Hickton, who noted, "This matter is of great public interest and we understand and appreciate the public's concern. We regard this as a very serious matter."

At this stage, neither Hickton nor Casey are suggesting evidence of any criminal wrong-doing at the VA.

But the announcement that Hickton is working with the inspector general -- and will conduct his own independent review once that report is issued -- raises this to another level.

Former VA Employee Says He Contracted Legionnaire's (2/12/13)
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