The follow is state Senator Doug Berger’s comments to the Department of Homeland Security regarding the placement of the NBAF and the draft Environmental Impact Statement. If you have not submitted your comments you have until August 25th to do so.

Dear Homeland Security,

I am the state Senator who represents Butner in the North Carolina  General  Assembly. I am writing to express my opposition to Butner being selected as the site for the NBAF project.   Last September 2007, I joined a  bi-partisan group of legislators in giving support to the NBAF being located in North Carolina.  Since that time,  I submitted a list of questions  at one of the public meetings conducted by Homelamd Security.  Many of these questions were not answered or were not answered to my satisfaction by the draft Environmental Impact Statement.  It is clear from this process that a site will be selected and that such issues as whether the facility will be manned by public or private security will not be determined prior to site selection.  I made it clear from the outset I would withdraw my support for this project if the security for this facility was privatized as has been the case at Plum Island.

In order for the NBAF project to successfully locate in an area, there must be trust between the local community and the federal government.  Local law enforcement officials and emergency medical services officials must work closely with community members to develop plans for the safe movement of the samples of diseases that will be transported in and out of the facility. This local coordination must also take place in order for a meaningful evacuation plan to safely transport the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill at area institutions to be developed as well.  Homeland Security’s prior history as well as its lack of responsiveness to both opponents and proponents of the NBAF during the selection process has so eroded public confidence that there is absolutely no trust between the local community and Homeland Security.

The critical point at which I began to seriously consider withdrawing my support for the NBAF and joining the opposition took place after the May 2008 Congressional GAO report was issued that challenged the research Homeland Security had put forward as evidence that research of hoof and mouth disease could be done safely on the mainland.  After this report was released, our state Commissioner of Agriculture was unwilling to address the findings in the report even though he is charged with protecting North Carolina’s food supply.   The questions raised by the GAO report and the community’s legitimate lack of trust of Homeland Security has led me to join the opposition to the NBAF being located here on the mainland in North Carolina.

The NBAF project no longer enjoys the support from elected officials that it had at the beginning of the site selection process.  This evaporation of support is in direct response to the arrogant display of power and indifference by Homeland Security.  Homeland Security has been unresponsive to questions posed by the City of Raleigh concerning the NBAF’s impact on its key local water supply.  Homeland Security has been unresponsive to the environmental questions posed by both the Durham County Commissioners and the Durham City Council.  Each of these urban political bodies have joined their rural counterparts in Butner, Stem, Creedmoor, and  Granville County in opposing or withdrwaing support for the NBAF. Many elected leaders including myself gave ample opportunity for Homeland Security to be completely responsive to our constituencies and yet that did not occur.

Recent revelations that Mississippi is a finalist in the selection process has made it clear that the selection of the site will be based on politics. In closing I will make this promise to you.  I will do everything within my power as co-chairperson of the Health and Human Services Subcommittee on Appropriations in the North Carolina Senate to oppose any legislation that involves state dollars for the funding of the infrastructure needed for the NBAF site.  Do not select  Butner as the site for the location of the NBAF.

Please include these comments for review by Homeland Security in preparation
for its final draft of the EIS.

Sincerely yours,

Senator Doug  Berger