Training center suspends chemical use after exposing responders to ricin

FEMA said workers ordered a non-lethal form of ricin; no students have been reported harmed at the center


Associated Press

ANNISTON, Ala. — An Alabama facility that trains first responders is suspending the use of chemical and biological substances after mistakenly using lethal ricin during exercises.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's halting use of the agents through January at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston.

FEMA spokeswoman Alexa C. Lopez said a form of ricin that is safe for humans is supposed to be used in the training. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)
FEMA spokeswoman Alexa C. Lopez said a form of ricin that is safe for humans is supposed to be used in the training. (AP Photo/Kevin Rivoli)

The agency made the announcement Sunday on a website set up to provide updates on the center, where thousands of firefighters, paramedics and others have trained.

No students have been reported harmed at the center. But FEMA has asked the Department of Homeland Security's Inspector General to investigate how the toxin came to be used during exercises in which workers don protective gear while learning to handle hazardous substances.

FEMA has said workers ordered a non-lethal form of ricin from a vendor.

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