RealNews

Report Cites Security Flaws at Plum Island

Officials at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center have failed to safeguard pathogens that could be adapted to become weapons of germ warfare, including an agent potentially “as threatening as smallpox,” a federal report says. Safety concerns at the island, off the North Fork of eastern Long Island, have long focused on the pathogens of diseases generally confined to animals, like foot-and-mouth disease and swine fever. But the report, excerpts of which were provided by a government official concerned about safety at the island, sounded a rare alarm about the potential of hazards to people. The General Accounting Office, which issued the report, cited a host of failings: door sensors and alarms that did not work, weak outside lighting, the presence of armed guards but no permission for them to use their weapons. Some of the report’s conclusions were first reported in Newsday yesterday. More worrisome, the report said, was the way in which dangerous pathogens in a biocontainment center were protected. Foreign students who take courses at the center do not undergo background checks, some government scientists employed there had not had background checks updated in more than a decade, and recently, eight foreign scientists were given free rein in the biocontainment area without adequate checks, the report said. Full Story

OODA Analyst

OODA Analyst

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