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High-security research labs not so high security

Washington_Congressional investigators have found that intruders could easily break into two US laboratories where researchers handle some of the world's deadliest germs.

The Associated Press identified the vulnerable lab locations as San Antonio and Atlanta.  A report by the government accountability office describes the serious security problems at the two labs. The GAO didn't identify the labs except to say they were classified as biosafety level 4 facilities. But the report included enough details for the AP and others knowledgeable about such labs to determine their locations.

Biosafety level 4 labs conduct research on deadly germs and toxins.  In Texas, The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research features an outside window that looks directly into the room where the deadly germs are handled. The lab, which is privately run, also lacks many security cameras, intrusion detection alarms or visible armed guards at its public entrances. Officials there said they will tighten security.

Lab President Kenneth Trevett says perimeter security is being examined at the San Antonio lab.

Copyright 2008 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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