It’s time to get off our butts and stop this environmental nightmare once and for all. Tomorrow is your last chance to go toe to toe with DHS in person. You know you want to show them the love, right? Seriously this is the last meeting before site selection is made in October, however the comment period does not end until August 25. On June 20th 2008, a very flawed Draft Environment Impact Statement was released on the proposed sites. The meeting tomorrow is part of the NEPA process DHS must obey. Good thing, because the DEIS itself fell short of the “hard look” required by NEPA law. Consider this from Lisa Sorg of Indy Weekly.

There is a lot more we don’t know about. The DEIS lays out, in gory detail, how an outbreak could occur, whom the diseases would affect, and their symptoms. The document estimates the economic costs—in the billions, counting agricultural losses and human health care expenses—and possible methods to rein in an outbreak.

Yet the report, on the basis of which citizens and government officials are expected to form an opinion, is short on many important specifics.

For example, the DEIS doesn’t detail standard procedures to deal with an outbreak, stating only that the protocol would be “publicly accepted” before the lab opens.

“We would do public outreach so folks would understand why they don’t need to panic,” Verrico said. “What things they need to do to keep themselves and their livestock safe.”

Nor does the DEIS pinpoint how the lab would dispose of infected animal carcasses used in experiments. (However, it does forecast the impacts, such as additional air emissions, from disposal methods.) Incineration and tissue digestion—essentially, liquefying the remains using chemicals—could be used “in combination,” Verrico said. However, in the 1980s, Granville County activists, including some current lab opponents, successfully beat back a proposed hazardous waste incinerator; it is unlikely that another would pass muster.

While the lab would be responsible for sterilizing and pretreating its wastewater, questions also linger about South Granville Water and Sewer Authority’s ability to handle an additional 25 million gallons per year. The DEIS does not mention SGWASA’s fines or violations as possible drawbacks, even though since 2003, the state’s Division of Water Quality fined the authority $27,000 for discharging polluted wastewater into the already-polluted Knap of Reeds Creek. The creek flows into Falls Lake, Raleigh’s primary drinking water source. SGWASA would be charged with monitoring NBAF’s compliance with wastewater standards, something the authority has failed to consistently do with its other industrial customers.

Go to nobio.org and get the details concerning tomorrow’s meeting. There will be two sessions. I have it on good authority that a rally will take place in the evening so this is something you don’t want to miss. You know the consorts will be out in force so if you are serious about your community be there, and plan to comment. 

On July 24th members of GNAT went to Washington D.C. to present their citizen’s petition to DHS. Joining them were Kathy Prescott and Grady Thrasher of Athens FAQ, a non-profit in Athens Georgia trying to stop the NBAF from being sited in their community. GNAT deserves all of our support now more than ever. Let’s make sure this is the last visit DHS has to make to Butner, North Carolina, shall we. See you there.

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