The long awaited Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) was finally released, but folks as usual with the Bush Administration they release something important on a Friday with the hope that no news media outlets will pick up the story. WRAL didn’t let this story slip by.
The report itself is no surprise to Granville Non Violent Action Team (GNAT) says GNAT’s spokeperson Bill McKellar. “The report confirms what GNAT has been saying since last summer” and “DHS verifies the lab is extremely dangerous and is a risk to the state that accepts it “.
Within the 1005 pages lays the fate of the proposed 5 sites excluding Plum Island. At first glance the Umstead Research Farm in Butner is the only site that will have to upgrade the infrastructure in all key areas including, water and sewer, roads, and utilities. An aside note: for me it is almost laughable to imagine old Highway 75 a four-lane road, I wonder if the surrounding dirt roads will be paved? Let’s pray, it doesn’t come to that. 
Independent Weekly has the NBAF DEIS for your viewing on their website  (links below). Lisa Sorg will be doing a story in the June 25th edition of the Independent Weekly and as always Lisa’s reporting looks at the NBAF issue from a community perspective with balance.
  •  Material from DHS’s website for more go here.

The next step in this process will be a 60 day period for public comment and a DHS NBAF Town Hall meeting for all the sites. As for now the NC date appears to be set for late July. I will confirm those dates and other information as soon as I have it.

Comments may be submitted orally, in writing at the public meetings or by using one of the following mechanisms:

 

U.S. MAIL

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

James V. Johnson

Mail Stop #2100

245 Murray Lane, SW, Building 410

Washington, DC 20528

TOLL-FREE FAX

1-866-508-NBAF (6223)

 

TOLL-FREE VOICE MAIL

1-866-501-NBAF (6223)

 

ONLINE: http://www.dhs.gov/nbaf (click on Public Involvement)

 For now I have to refer to the experts on these matters a shetland sheepdog named Gretchen who says Just say No to the NBAF.

 
In all matters of security on my Granville County, N.C., farm, I consult my Shetland sheepdog, Gretchen. She’s the first line of defense here, meeting every visitor with a ferocious bark or a wag of the tail.

She also monitors the airways for rogue hawks, buzzards, geese and other possible threats: A passenger jet at 30,000 feet is not exempt from her scrutiny. And she’s completely transparent. You can tell immediately if she perceives danger, if she’s happy, wants food or craves attention, and her track record is great.

If Gretchen had been with me at the town hall meeting in Creedmoor back in February, she would definitely have been barking. Representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Plum Island Animal Disease Center had come to answer our questions about the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, a giant Department of Homeland Security project looking to find a possible home in Butner.

The Homeland Security representative told us that all research conducted at the facility would be transparent and that the results would be available. But under repeated questioning, he and members of the panel would not even tell us how many diseases now stored at Plum Island would be transferred here.

If you’ve ever tried to get documents from the DHS under the Freedom of Information Act, you know that transparency is not their strong suit. They’re much better at withholding information for reasons of national security. So will we really know what they’re doing at this facility? Developing germ-warfare agents? “Code orange: Sorry, can’t tell you. Oh, by the way, we at Homeland Security would like you all to provide us with a costly (tens of millions of dollars) backup power plant—which somehow didn’t make it into our budget.” Gretchen and I are worried about what else was left out of the budget. So much for transparency. Arf!

We were assured that many of our questions would be answered further down the road when the environmental impact study is released. Do I hear a low growl? This doesn’t smell right. Because if history is any guide, by the time the draft version of this study is released, DHS will already have chosen its preferred site. [Editor’s note: At press time, the document was due to be released soon.]So anyone waiting for the draft EIS before challenging the wisdom of building the defense facility in Butner will have more or less forfeited the possibility of having a significant impact on the decision. This is the ultimate lack of transparency. In Gretchen’s opinion, we might as well be chasing our own tails.

As we questioned Homeland Security’s ability to keep us safe, the panelists ducked, pointing to the sterling safety record at Plum Island and other facilities. But they left out a few things, such as the at least 75 accidents reported by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. They also failed to mention the 1978 breach of foot-and-mouth disease at the Plum Island lab or the fact that virtually every animal on the island had to be killed and incinerated. They didn’t mention Plum Island’s multiple citations by the Environmental Protection Agency for water-quality violations. They didn’t mention the huge amounts of bacteria being released into Long Island Sound, which led to the citations and fines. Nor did they mention that the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked Plum Island second in terms of EPA permit violations among facilities along the New York/New Jersey coast.

This disturbing track record, along with other DHS responses (think Hurricane Katrina), should give us pause. Can the Department of Homeland Security be entrusted with our future? Raleigh’s water supply, Butner Hospital and its residents, and the health and safety of our families and livestock are all at risk. So I’m sticking with Gretchen’s approach: Sniff out what doesn’t deserve my trust, and bark loudly in warning.

[Licensed acupuncturist Joe Pfister is a member of GNAT (the Granville Nonviolent Action Team). His wife, Jennie, has had Lyme disease. For more information on the campaign to block siting the NBAF in North Carolina

Advertisements