Fuck! An explosion at the Russian State Research Center for Virology and Biotechnology (Vector) led to a fire, glass exploded throughout the building, and a worker who received a third degree burned on Monday, according to a newsletter from atomic scientists. Vector is one of the only two places in the world to officially store live samples of the measles virus, as well as stockpile other deadly pathogens, including Ebola and anthrax.
According to the TASS state agency, Koltsovo's Chief Administrator Nikolay Krasnikov said the blast occurred during the planned repair work, blowing glass in the building and starting a 30-square-foot fire. Various reports indicate that the incident began with a gas explosion. However, Krasnikov stressed that no biohazardous materials were stored where the explosion and explosion occurred and that there was no threat to the general population. The Vector building in question did not suffer any structural damage, added Krasnikov, while the worker was in an "intense" state.
RT, another state media center, reported that the fire had been upgraded to a "major incident" and that the Ministry of Emergency Situations had dispatched 13 fire trucks and 38 firefighters.
The Vector facility is actually huge. Since its founding in 1975, it has been steadily expanding to hire thousands of researchers to cover dozens of acres, and in recent years has been upgraded with significant security measures, according to Slate. So while the news part of it explodes is worrying, the odds look pretty good that the explosion is not directly on the smallpox room.
This may be a charity called a bad time for a sensitive Russian government facility to survive an explosion, as a mysterious blasting officer in the country first describes it as a time incident on a Ministry of Defense test of a rocket propulsion system that killed at least five people in August. According to doctors who visited the victims, patients were not said to be exposed to radioactive materials (one was told that he must have eaten "Fukushima crabs" in Thailand). It was later reported that US intelligence believes the Russian military is trying to cover up a disaster while trying to recover a nuclear missile.
As the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists points out, Vector is considered one of the world's leading epidemiological research centers (credited for developing the Ebola vaccine this year), but it and the US Centers for Disease Control, where other specimens are stored from smallpox, are confronted with questions about "safety and infrastructure processes":
Despite this reputation, questions have been raised about the institute. A senior Soviet official on biological weapons, who defected in the United States in the 1990s, claims that smallpox has been moved to the Vectors Institute to conduct bioweapons studies.
The other worldwide smallpox repository, the CDC, also faces questions about its safety processes and infrastructure. In 2016 USA Today published an investigation into damage to the centers, including a 2009 incident in which scientists in biohazard suits could see light penetrating a decontamination chamber, where it was alleged that workers who have just finished using deadly pathogens
In 2004, Ebola researcher Antonina Presnyakova died after being stuck with a needle carrying the virus in Vector. According to the New York Times, the incident raised "security and privacy concerns" after many weeks of delays in reporting the incident to the World Health Organization, meaning the agency's scientists "cannot provide quick advice on treatment that may have saved her life. "