Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Power failure hits CDC germ lab (Fort Collins, CO)
Rocky Mountain News ^ | October 13, 2005 | Jim Erickson, Rocky Mountain News

Posted on 10/14/2005 8:13:53 AM PDT by LurkedLongEnough

A power failure knocked out the security system at a federal germ lab in Fort Collins for 13 hours Monday and disabled freezers housing thousands of vials of plague and other potential bioweapons.

A backup generator kicked on when the power failed.

But an electrical short prevented the backup power from being routed through the building, said Colorado State University spokesman Brad Bohlander.

As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention laboratory was without power for 13 hours, beginning at 3:07 p.m. Monday, Bohlander said. CSU owns the building and leases it to the government.No germ collections were damaged, the public was not endangered, and no security breach occurred, said CDC spokeswoman Jennifer Morcone.

The Fort Collins CDC lab, which opened in 1967, is known as the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.

It houses freeze-dried samples of about 1,000 plague strains, along with smaller collections of two other potential bioweapons, tularemia and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.

West Nile virus and the microbes that cause Lyme disease and yellow fever also are stored at the lab, which is west of downtown Fort Collins on Colorado State's Foothills Campus.

A new $80 million CDC lab is being built adjacent to the aging facility. It is scheduled for completion next year.

Sen. Wayne Allard and other members of the Colorado congressional delegation pushed hard to get funding for the new lab. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the anthrax-letter incidents that followed, Allard stressed the current lab's security shortcomings.

In a February 2002 letter to the Health and Human Services secretary, Allard said the lab's run-down state constitutes a "bioterrorism security breach."

On Wednesday afternoon, two members of Allard's staff visited the lab for a briefing about Monday's power failure. An incident report is being prepared.

"The senator will take a look at that report, and if there are concerns, he'll address them," said Carolyn Williams, Allard's Colorado press secretary.

"But what we've heard so far is that things were handled very well," she said.

Lab employees were off for the Columbus Day holiday when Monday's power outage occurred. The problem was traced to water that leaked into the room that houses the lab's main electrical system, causing a short that knocked out power, Bohlander said.

Extra security guards were posted during the blackout, which disabled the lab's video surveillance system and the electronic card keys that control access to restricted areas, Morcone said.

Portable generators provided temporary power to the main germ freezers. Dry ice was used in smaller freezers, Bohlander said.

Five CDC employees - including engineers and a security specialist - flew from agency headquarters in Atlanta and worked with the Colorado State team.

In October 2001, investigators from the Office of the Inspector General at the Department of Health and Human Services visited the Fort Collins lab and found several security deficiencies.

A short time later, a new perimeter fence went up, around-the-clock guard patrols were added, and access to the biological agents in the lab's freezers was tightened. Security cameras linking the Fort Collins lab to Atlanta were installed, along with a new computerized card-key system.


TOPICS: News/Current Events; US: Colorado; US: Georgia
KEYWORDS: biodefense; biowarfare; bioweapons; plague; tularemia

1 posted on 10/14/2005 8:13:59 AM PDT by LurkedLongEnough
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: LurkedLongEnough
So I don't get to put on my leather Road Warrior outfit to battle hoards of mutant zombies with my trusty 12 gauge in a post apocalyptic world where only the strong survive?

.. no good spoil sports.

2 posted on 10/14/2005 8:24:26 AM PDT by avg_freeper (Gunga galunga. Gunga, gunga galunga)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LurkedLongEnough

"The Fort Collins CDC lab,... is known as the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.

"It houses freeze-dried samples of about 1,000 plague strains, along with smaller collections of two other potential bioweapons, tularemia and Venezuelan equine encephalitis. West Nile Virus and the Microbes that cause Lyme disease and yellow fever"..


1. "A power failure knocked out the security system at a federal germ lab in Fort Collins for 13 hours Monday"

2. "A backup generator kicked on when the power failed."

3. "But an electrical short prevented the backup power from being routed through the building,..."

4. "The problem was traced to water that leaked into the room that houses the lab's main electrical system, causing a short that knocked out power,"

5. "Extra security guards were posted during the blackout, which disabled the lab's video surveillance system and the electronic card keys that control access to restricted areas, Morcone said."

So how did the power originally fail? Through the water leak? Is this also to blame for the electrical short that knocked out the backup power?



3 posted on 10/14/2005 8:33:11 AM PDT by milford421
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: milford421

probing attack or dry run?


4 posted on 10/14/2005 8:37:26 AM PDT by vrwc0915
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: LurkedLongEnough
No germ collections were damaged, the public was not endangered, and no security breach occurred, said CDC spokeswoman Jennifer Morcone.

No doubt the Jennifer Morcone sim is programmed to say those words whenever there is an "incident". Somehow I'm unconvinced.

5 posted on 10/14/2005 8:43:44 AM PDT by The Electrician ("Government is the only enterprise in the world which expands in size when its failures increase.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: avg_freeper
So I don't get to put on my leather Road Warrior outfit to battle hoards of mutant zombies with my trusty 12 gauge in a post apocalyptic world where only the strong survive?

That pretty much describes my neighbourhood :0)

6 posted on 10/14/2005 8:54:32 AM PDT by agere_contra
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: LurkedLongEnough

Is this "The Stand" coming true?


7 posted on 10/14/2005 9:14:58 AM PDT by Pest (My reality check bounced!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Pest

Don't ask me - I've never read 'The Stand' - I'm too scared.


8 posted on 10/14/2005 9:19:04 AM PDT by LurkedLongEnough
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: milford421

Yep, sounds like the water poured into their electrical panels which is the routing point regardless of the power source.


9 posted on 10/14/2005 9:30:42 AM PDT by kenth (There were only a few thousand hippies marching, but it smelled like half a million.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: LurkedLongEnough

This is why I'm against nuclear power.


10 posted on 10/14/2005 9:34:51 AM PDT by SupplySider
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: LurkedLongEnough

Interesting. Anybody know what BioSafety Level (BSL) this place is?


11 posted on 10/14/2005 9:45:30 AM PDT by PLMerite ("Unarmed, one can only flee from Evil. But Evil isn't overcome by fleeing from it." Jeff Cooper)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: PLMerite

3

Biosafety-3: Handle airborne life-threatening diseases for which there is a treatment, like anthrax.


12 posted on 10/14/2005 11:22:54 AM PDT by kenth (There were only a few thousand hippies marching, but it smelled like half a million.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: milford421

Give us more government calls the liberals to prevent the problems that the government caused by neglect in the first place. These are the people you want to entrust your children safety too? and to clean up the Gulf coast? and to protect us from the Avian pandemic? and on and on. Government is NO GOOD the less the better. IMO


13 posted on 10/14/2005 9:23:27 PM PDT by unseen
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: The Electrician; vrwc0915

"probing attack or dry run?"

Either one would be logical.


"No doubt the Jennifer Morcone sim is programmed to say those words whenever there is an "incident"."

"Somehow I'm unconvinced."

I'm unconvinced too...the only statement that was missing was, "no terrorism involved here"...


14 posted on 10/15/2005 5:12:47 AM PDT by milford421
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: kenth

"Yep, sounds like the water poured into their electrical panels which is the routing point regardless of the power source."

It's never rained there before?


15 posted on 10/15/2005 5:14:19 AM PDT by milford421
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson