Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Used vials of smallpox not infected

This updated version of this story first appeared on Delphic’s “Infotainment With Charley Seidman.” For the full installment, go to Delphic’s YouTube page.

Members of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission tell CNN that officials found vials of smallpox in a Georgetown lab less than six weeks ago, but say the vials don’t contain the disease that killed hundreds of thousands in the last century.

CNN confirmed the existence of the vials when the news was first reported by the National Public Radio program “Weekend Edition Saturday.”

NRC’s health and safety division chief John Whitaker said in a statement Thursday that the agency has reached out to the National Institutes of Health for more information about how the vials were handled.

“The NRC has not been given sufficient information to understand what happened, where the vials were, when they were discovered, who found them and how they were disposed of. The NRC will work with the NIH to determine whether any environmental or public health issues may have arisen as a result of this incident,” Whitaker said.

He said laboratory director of the lab at which the vials were found “and an associate director have been relieved of their duties.”

“We will determine whether these individuals’ careers will require a complete reappraisal, but only after we have had time to conduct a thorough investigation,” Whitaker said.

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