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Thread: FedEx van Shipping Anthrax crashes in Winnipeg

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    Banned aceman67 has become well known aceman67 has become well known aceman67 has become well known aceman67's Avatar
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    Exclamation FedEx van Shipping Anthrax crashes in Winnipeg

    Taken from the Winnipeg Sun March 3rd 2005

    Any spelling mistakes are mine, since I'm typeing this out by hand from a newspaper.


    Dean Pritchard - Winnipeg Sun Staff Writer

    Federal virology lab officials are defnding their method of transporting biological agents like anthrax after a FedEx van on its way to the Arlington Street lab collieded with a car yesterday.

    The van was carrying five boxes containing samples of anthrax, E. coli, influenza, and tuberuculosis.

    The Accident occurred shortly after 8 am at the intersection of Sherbrook Street and Logan ave. and closed down several city blocks as emergency crews ensured none of the packages had been damaged. No one was injured in the collision.

    The incident raised concerns such transportation methods could expose Winnipeggers to fatal viruses or welcome attacks from terrorists.

    Dr. Stefan Wagener, the lab's director of bio-safety and environment, said transporting hazardous biological agents by commercial courier is the accepted standard across North America, and Winnipeggers were never at risk.

    "It has been proven to be the safest way for transporting dangerous goods", he said. "This was a routine process that happens for us everyday."

    Triple Packaged
    Wagener said the viruses are triple packaged for transport. Thest tubes containting samples are wrapped in plastic inside a tightly sealed container. That container is then sealed in a box. in the even of an accident, an absorbing agent will absorb whatever is spilled.

    Wagener said ratcheting up security procedures would only slow the transportation of samples and hamper the lab's ability to work effectively.

    Antrax is concidered a Level 3 virus, Level 4 being the highest on the scale, includes the Ebola Virus. FedEx officials said the company routinely deals with azardous cargo and provdes "comprehensive" training for satff who transport it.
    "We are the people that transport that stuff safely," said health safty and environmental director Peter Balyk.
    "The incident has proved that the saftest wat for those goods to be transported is my the experts. and we are the experts."

    But Winnipeg Center MP Pat martin said he was shocked by the acident because of promises to beef up security following the accidental spill of cooling water in 2003.

    "After the spill 2 years ago, we really thought that better safety measures would be taken," Martin said yesterday. "Now, as soon as our back is turned, we learn that FedEx is carying this material in commercial trucks through busy downtown streets."

    Transporting anthrax by courier is no more dangerous that transporting gas by tanker thruck though the city, said John Lindsay, a professor with the Applied disaster and emergency studies program at Brandon University.

    "Does it create risk? Yes, but we balance the benifits that we receive," Lindsay said.
    "It is one of many, many risks in our communities. We move hazardous materials around our city every day. This may stand out today, because it happened, but we have many things to be concerned about"
    The reason I'm starting this discussion is beacuse this is a little bit personal for me. I live on Logan ave, no more then 6 blocks from where the accident took place.

    While I feel that such research is needed, and Winnipeg is well equipped for it, with one of the most state of the art research centers in North America (The World most likely), but I don't think that using the same company that dilvers me my winnings off of eBay transporting Antrax past my house on a regular basis. The Idea is very unsettling.

    Do you think that Commercial Couriers should be used to carry hazardous goods?

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    M A S T E R Zui Quan may be famous one day Zui Quan may be famous one day Zui Quan's Avatar
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    So how do you propose hazardous material get shipped then? I don't know about Canada, but here in the US a shipping company has to get a special license from the DOT (Department of Transportation) before they are allowed to carry hazardous cargo. As far as I'm concerned large commercial carriers are the only ones capable of carrying a hazardous cargo without incident.

    As a research chemist I receive packages of toxic, explosive, flammable, carcinogenic, teratogenic, and/or mutagenic chemicals shipped by UPS every day. 99,999 times out of 100,000 hazardous items are shipped by commercial carriers from source to destination without incident. It's unfortunate that that particular FedEx truck crashed while it was carrying anthrax, but the fact that the FedEx truck even crashed is a rarity for the shipper.
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    Actually here in Canada if your van has been vaccumed in the 7 days they allow you to carry such materials.

    Honestly, FedEX noted how they process things like this and I actually heard a radio interview with a local resident who said,"Well, I dunno about it all. I mean I don't mind them moving this sort of thing but I wish they had something so that when there is an accident there is really nothing to worry about"

    Ok, the package wasn't damaged and had mesures to protect it in this type of situation, so what's the problem?

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    Seeing as how the virus didn't spread tells you that good measures have been instilled. Even if the boxes were damaged, it sounds as though it would have been alright.

    What I'm more concerned about is the potential for some terrorist to obtain such chemicals/potential bioweapons. Level 3 or 4 chemicals that are a "favorite" with terrorists should have an armed guard or something with them. If these chemicals get in the wrong hands, God save us all. But as I say: The world is never safe, and there will always be someone looking for a way to make it worse.

    So its not a matter of "if" but when, but we should try to prolong it as much as posibe.

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    To me, that's completely scary... they shouldn't even be carrying such viruses. I agree with youth anime fan... they shouldn't be shipped by FedEx, they should be in an Armored Truck, or something that wouldn't spill the viruses in the worst of conditions.

    I think that even the thought of my package in the same truck as E. Coli, or Antrax, is horrifying. Good thing I don't ever get shipments from FedEx or UPS. I'm paranoid enough... but I feel they shouldn't at all be carried by FedEx, because accidents like this may happen... freaky....

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    But putting it an armored van would only announce to everyone where it was. To me that would make it a larger risk instead of a smaller one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by youth_anime_fan
    What I'm more concerned about is the potential for some terrorist to obtain such chemicals/potential bioweapons. Level 3 or 4 chemicals that are a "favorite" with terrorists should have an armed guard or something with them. If these chemicals get in the wrong hands, God save us all. But as I say: The world is never safe, and there will always be someone looking for a way to make it worse.

    Are you aware of how difficult it is to pinpoint the contents of a particular package out of the millions that are shipped by FedEx, UPS, DHL, and the USPS every day? Unless you are the person shipping the package or the person receiving the package you have a better chance of inventing cold fusion than figuring out which package would contain biological or chemical agents. In the 14 years that I have been ordering chemicals NOT ONCE has a shipment ever been damaged or lost. And I've ordered some pretty sketchy stuff: chemical weapons components, rocket fuel components, and explosives precursors.


    Commercial shippers are usually the safest, most secure way to ship items subject to petential thievery. Diamond brokers typically ship diamonds through the US Postal Service.
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    The Antagonist Eriadd may be famous one day Eriadd may be famous one day
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    Ah, yes. Nobody really cares that these items are being sent via commercial shipping until an improbable accident like this occurs. Then everyone panics about it for a month or so, and in about three months, they'll have forgotten all about it. Honestly, if it has been working before, then don't try to change it know. What is that old saying, again? "Don't fix it if it isn't broken."

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