FBI Anthrax Probe Focuses On Former Ohio Scientist

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The FBI has interviewed employees at Battelle, a research and development institute that does government sponsored work on germ warfare, as part of its nationwide anthrax probe.

Battelle spokeswoman Katy Delaney said no connections had been found to the recent anthrax-letter attacks.

As a government contractor using anthrax, Battelle is on the short list of federal labs and contractors being checked to determine the source of the finely milled germ spores sent to Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

"We have no indications of any security or safety breaches

but that's all we can say right now," Delaney said Tuesday. She said she did not know how many employees had been interviewed
, though it is believed that one of its scientists is the focus of the FBI probe, 19/43 News' Bill Safos reported.

The research scientist in question was fired from Battelle in 1996, but was then rehired. No one has said exactly what he worked on or why he was rehired, but three years later in 1999, he was fired again.

He moved to Milwaukee, and in October of this year, the FBI raided his home and found chemicals, but nothing illegal.

About 800 Battelle scientists and technicians are involved in military-sponsored chemical and biological warfare research at the institute's laboratories.

Most are working on chemical projects, but about a third have been shifted in recent years into developing defenses, including vaccines, against biological attack.

Delaney wouldn't say whether an audit of Battelle stores of anthrax had been completed or whether Battelle scientists are involved in the analysis of the Daschle material.

Battelle has been a Department of Defense contractor for biological warfare research since 1998.

Battelle has categorized its research as strictly defensive in nature, requiring the use of only small amounts of biological agents. The purpose is to develop vaccines, medications and protective devices and clothing for U.S. troops.

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