Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is demanding answers in a disturbing breach in safety procedures at the Defense Department.

Live anthrax bacteria was mistakenly shipped to labs in nine states, including Tennessee, according to federal health officials. Alexander says he's concerned about the possibility Tennessee workers were exposed.

The live spores were shipped from Dugway Proving Ground in Utah — a Defense Department facility — to government and commercial labs in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia.

The labs were supposed to receive dead — or inactivated — anthrax samples for research use.

The DOD won't say government and commercial labs in which states received the shipments which were supposed to contain inactive spores. 

Spokesman Col. Steve Warren says the Pentagon is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to retrieve the samples.

He says the government has confirmed one shipment contained live spores and suspects eight others did, too. Warren says the government believes there are no risks to the public.

So far, no one has been sickened by the live anthrax spores.. Though some lab workers are being treated as a precaution.

Officials say there is no known risk to the general public.  Contact with anthrax spores can cause severe illness.

Senator Lamar Alexander released the following statement:

“I'm very concerned about the possibility that lab workers in Tennessee or those in other states may have been exposed to anthrax because of this disturbing breach in safety procedures. My staff has already been in contact with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Defense, and I'll be monitoring the situation closely.”