Note to the NBAF cheerleaders: With the incident record the CDC is building, it is time you back off the CDC  comparison. Most people didn’t fall for the “look how safe the CDC is” comparison the first time but with this latest in a string of incidents a case is being build for just how risky these labs are. Moreover, the comparison is moot, since the NBAF is the first of its kind there is no precedent for comparison. These incidents at the CDC prove there is just cause to be concerned about these facilities operations. Thankfully, Atlanta has media with some backbone.

A laboratory building that contains a deadly strain of avian flu and other germs is among four that lost power for more than an hour Friday when a backup generator system failed again at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The outage affected air flow systems in labs that help contain such germs as the H5N1 flu virus, which some experts fear could cause a pandemic. But there were no exposures to infectious agents, and neither workers nor the public were at any risk, said CDC spokesman Tom Skinner.

The outage is the latest in a string of mechanical and construction incidents at labs on the agency’s Clifton Road campus, many in new buildings that are part of a $1 billion construction plan.

Other notible incidents according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution are as follows

May 18, 2007: Blasting of granite by a CDC construction contractor sent rock flying, shattering two exterior windows in Building 15, including one on a floor 150 feet away from a maximum-containment Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab that work with deadly germs such as Ebola. Rocks also damaged windows at Building 17, about 50 feet away from a high-containment Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) lab.

May 25, 2007: Nine workers were tested for possible exposure to Q fever, a bioterror agent, after a ventilation system in Building 18 malfunctioned and pulled potentially contaminated air into a “clean” corridor. Nobody was infected. Duct tape now seals the Q fever BSL-3 lab door in what CDC says is an added precaution until a new door is installed.

June 15, 2007: A lightning strike knocked out power for an hour at Building 18; backup generators did not come on. Nearby construction work had damaged a key component of the building’s grounding system.

Dec. 8, 2007: During a planned evacuation drill of Building 18’s labs that was designed to simulate a power outage, emergency lights initially came on but failed after 10 minutes when a technician inadvertently shut off a back-up power system, according to a CDC after-action report obtained by the AJC.

Dec. 18, 2007: Building 18 had a real evacuation after its new medical waste incinerator was started for a test and vented smoke into the high-containment lab area. Excessive heat caused the incinerator’s bypass stack to tear away from its anchor bolts, internal records show.

Friday: A bird caused a Georgia Power transformer to fail, knocking out power to part of the CDC campus for about 1 hour 15 minutes. Then CDC’s backup generators failed to keep power on at four buildings: the infectious disease lab Building 17, and offices in Buildings 1, 3.

Anyone want to put money on the fact this story never makes it to mainstream NC news? 

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