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Head of troubled CDC anthrax lab has resigned

By The Associated Press

This article was published July 23, 2014 at 1:57 p.m.

NEW YORK — The head of the government lab that potentially exposed workers to live anthrax has resigned, an agency spokesman said Wednesday.

Michael Farrell was head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lab since 2009. He submitted his resignation Tuesday, the spokesman said.

Farrell declined interview requests, said the spokesman, Tom Skinner.

Farrell was reassigned after an incident last month at an Atlanta lab that handles bioterrorism agents. The lab was supposed to completely kill anthrax samples before sending them to two other CDC labs that had fewer safeguards. But the higher-security lab did not completely sterilize the bacteria.

Dozens of CDC workers were potentially exposed to anthrax. No one got sick. But an internal investigation found serious safety lapses, including use of an unapproved sterilization technique and use of a potent type of anthrax in an experiment that did not require a live form of the germ.

Skinner declined to answer questions about what blame has been placed on Farrell in the events that led to the error. He also did not say whether Farrell was asked to resign.

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