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Saturday, October 06, 2007  
Livermore Lab fined for shipping open vials of anthrax to Florida

By: Staff
Published In: Associated Press

LIVERMORE ? Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has been fined $450,000 after a federal agency found that a former scientist sent two open vials of anthrax across the country two years ago.

The employee lacked proper credentials when she sent a shipment with 1,025 vials of the deadly pathogen to a laboratory in Palm Beach, Fla. in September 2005, according to the Department of Transportation's review.

The scientist, who resigned from her job after the incident, had left the twist caps off two containers and a loose cap on a third vial, the agency found. Two workers at the Florida lab may have been exposed when the anthrax shipment was opened without proper precautions. They were treated with the antibiotic Cipro before returning to work.

A second shipment of about 3,000 vials sent to a lab in Virginia the next day by the same scientist had more vials than permitted in violation of packaging restrictions, according to the review.

Lawrence Livermore spokeswoman Susan Houghton said all anthrax-related research was halted for seven months after the 2005 shipments, and the facility has since set up an oversight system as well as new training and procedures.

Marylia Kelley, who lives near the lab and heads the citizen group Tri-Valley CAREs, said the incidents illustrate the dangers the facility poses to the community.

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