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Lab tests of soil samples taken from a Frederick, Maryland, pond that the FBI drained in June have shown no traces of anthrax bacteria, law enforcement sources told the Washington Post.

The FBI spent about $250,000 and three weeks draining 1.45 million gallons of water from the pond in a search for evidence — including clothing and soil samples — that might lead to the culprit who sent the deadly anthrax bacteria in the mail that killed five people and sickened 17 others in the fall of 2001.

The pond became a focus of the FBI because a scientist identified as a “person of interest” in the anthrax investigation was once overhead to speak hypothetically about disposing of evidence in water in that vicinity.

Law enforcement sources said FBI officials knew the undertaking was a long shot but, after much internal debate, decided to proceed rather than be second-guessed as to whether they were being thorough enough. Investigators are continuing to work with scientists to genetically code the anthrax bacteria in hopes of tracing it to a particular lab, sources told the Post.


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