Committee Launches Bipartisan Investigation of Reported Safety Lapses at CDC Bioterror Lab

June 25, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - In light of recent media reports of possible safety incidents at one of the nation’s most sensitive biolabs, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI), Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Cliff Stearns (R-FL), Subcommittee Ranking Member Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Oversight Subcommittee member Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), are seeking answers and documents from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The members sent a letter today to Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the CDC, requesting information about possible safety lapses at CDC Building 18, Level 3 labs in Atlanta, GA. A recent USA Today report detailed concerns about “repeated problems with airflow systems designed to help prevent the release of infectious agents.” Additionally, CNN reported last week that on February 16, 2012, “Air flowed the wrong way out of a germ lab into a clean-air corridor, rather than through the powerful HEPA filter that cleans the air…”

In the letter to CDC Director Frieden, the committee leaders write, “The Committee on Energy and Commerce is investigating whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is complying with Federal safety requirements in its operation of the Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, also known as CDC Building 18, a $214 million Biosafety Level 3 germ lab facility used for experiments involving anthrax, dangerous strains of influenza, the SARS coronavirus, monkeypox and other microbes with bioweapons potential.”

The committee leaders are seeking all documents relating to any safety issues, biosafety incidents, and recommendations to address any issues at CDC Building 18 Level 3 labs dating back to January 1, 2005. The committee set a July 6, 2012, deadline.

Watch the CNN Report HERE

Read the full text of the bipartisan letter to CDC HERE.