Archive for December 19, 2008

So the word is Governor elect Bev Perdue is busy making her (wish-list) recommendations for her administration’s cabinet-level positions.  The N&O offers a comprehensive blow by blow of the contenders to head state agencies once the Gov. elect takes office. But, for us in Granville County there is already a winner on the list for North Carolina’s Environment Secretary, the City of Creedmoor’s, Mayor Darryl Moss.

After a decade of service to Creedmoor as a sitting City Commissioner (1989-1999) Darryl Moss took over the job of  Mayor of Creedmoor in 1999.  As Mayor, one of his most “environmentally” popular accomplishments for the community, has been the development of a successful economic development  program that  incorporated the protection of priceless natural resources. 

Moss’s leadership and green initiatives have benefited the community in several ways. One program “Blight Spot Bright Spot” helped earn Creedmoor the title of Playful City USA 2008

KaBOOM! also selected Creedmoor for its dedication to play. The community has made play a priority and finding as many opportunities as possible to ensure that its children have ample opportunity and space in which to play. One way that Creedmoor highlights many of its success is through the “Blight Spot Bright Spot” program that allows a property owner in Creedmoor to deed their property to the city for a tax credit so the land can then be used for a park or open space.  

In November 08, Creedmoor was awarded $2.183M by the Clean Water Management Trust Fund(CWMTF) for their park initiative and Mayor Moss was recently appointed to the N.C. Environmental Management Commission, “where he  now sits on several committees on air quality, groundwater and water management”.  

His proven environmental leadership has helped all of  Granville County but he deserves a special “thank you”  from the community of Butner. Mayor Moss was the first official to publicly take a stand against the National Bio Agro Defense Facility (NBAF) and the facility’s advocates at the September 07, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) NBAF scoping meeting in Creedmoor. The negative environmental consequences of the NBAF would have been an enormous burden to Butner and Granville County’s resources. Mayor Moss recently spoke about that experience with Independent Weekly’s, Lisa Sorg, Sorg wrote:

Creedmoor Mayor Darryl Moss was the first official to publicly take a stand, in September 2007, when doing so was highly unpopular. “There was a lot of pressure,” he said. “I had a private briefing from the consortium. I am one not to burn bridges, but I blew some up.”

His environmental leadership as well as his encouragement for active citizen involvement in government has transformed the once often unnoticed town of Creedmoor into a great  “greener” place to work, visit and live. I have complete confidence if he is chosen and given the honor to fill the position of Environment Secretary, his leadership will indeed transform the state as well.


Family and friends of  the missing mother of two, Kelly Currin Morris are asking volunteers for help with the last organized search of this year.

Those wanting to assist in the search can meet at the command center on 2816 Old Weaver Trail at 8 a.m. Sunday,Dec 21.

Kelly was last seen on the evening of September 3rd, 2008. Anyone with information about Kelly Morris’ whereabouts is urged to call the Command Center at (919)-812-2310 or the Granville County Sheriff’s Office at (919) 693-3213. You can also email any information to .

Since Kansas  was chosen to host DHS’s behemoth of all bio-labs, (we are still waiting on the official word from Jay Cohen) there have been several on-going media discussions on the internets concerning the NBAF’s benefits to Kansas, a biotech power grab and of course the talking points (thanks to all of you guys who sent me this stuff). But few are discussing where all of the funding for the “project of the century” will come from and no one seems to be concerned about the safety deficiencies outlined in the most recent GAO report  and in a series of CRS Issues for Congress reports. An aside note: The CRSreports, specifically, have growth in length and depth of the stated issues since the first NBAF report to Congress. The most recent report focused on the NBAF draft EIS which includes information from The Rift Valley Fever Working Group. That report left me wondering if my concerns regarding select agents of study at the NBAF were directed at the wrong pathogen. Consider this;

Despite the potentially higher costs of a Rift Valley fever virus release, in terms of economic costs and human lives lost,most of the debate about mainland versus island laboratories has focused on FMD. This likely arises in part from the legal restrictions placed on such research. Currently, research on live FMD virus is statutorily limited to locations outside of the mainland of the United States.

Regardless of what type or where the research is preformed it must be done using the safest methods not the most cost effective. Kansas, (like most states) is dealing with huge budget shortfalls and the NBAF is one facility where the “national priority” is the funding. Without proper funding the first thing that will be compromised is the safety. That said, DHS is known for its ole, funding debacles and  its “bait and switch” approach to projects. But I, like many of the lab opponents hold out hope with the 500 lbs gorilla in the room which is the requirement that DHS has yet to satisify or meet; Plain and simple, DHS dosen’t have the evidence that research on FMD can be done safely and securely on the mainland. 

The GAO report stated – A comprehensive analysis to determine if FMD work could be conducted safely on the U.S. mainland would have considered these points, at a minimum. DHS did not identify or remedy these deficiencies before using the USDA study to support its conclusions. Consequently, we believe DHS does not have evidence to conclude that FMD work can be done safely on the U.S. mainland.

Thus no funding:

 As reported by the House Committee for Appropriations, the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2009 (H.R. 6947) would forbid the use of FY2009 appropriated funds for design or construction of NBAF on the mainland until the DHS completes a risk analysis of whether foot-and-mouth disease work can be done safely on the United States mainland and until the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviews this risk assessment.

Okay, so look at the why from 2 perspectives. 1) The 2002 study DHS is relying on was started by the USDA and completed by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). In my opinion, there are several reasons for concern, SAIC and its subsidiaries have a certain duty to make their clients happy while making their shareholders money. As you can see  in the POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database, they have been successful at both. In fact SAIC is in the top 10 list at #9 and its subsidiary Bechtel Corporation appears at # 14.

2) The GAO found that: 

SAIC, United States Department of Agriculture Biocontainment Feasibility Studies, Study Report. The study examined a number of other questions concerning a possible move of PIADC to the mainland, in addition to the questions on technical feasibility regarding biosafety and biosecurity.

 Among other things, (1) the study used an ad hoc method to select its expert panel that was not necessarily free from bias; (2) the study report was written by a single third-party person under contract for that purpose who was not present during the panel discussions; and (3) no concern was taken to ensure that the expert panel members reviewed either the draft or the final version of the report. At least one expert panel member expressed disappointment with the slant of the report.

 In addition to a number of other methodological problems with the study, we found that it was selective in what it considered in order to reach its findings. In particular, the study

1. did not assess the history of releases of FMD virus or other dangerous pathogens,

 2. did not address in detail the issues related to large animal work in BSL-3 Ag facilities, and

  3. was inaccurate in comparing other countries’ FMD work experience with that of the United States.

Clearly the GAO saw some red flags and given the nature of the stated risk, don’t you think it is a good idea the study be preformed from an entity that didn’t have a vested interest in the result of the report? Yes, so before the corks are popped on the champagne lets first put the 500 lbs. gorilla to bed.

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