Tag Archive: NBAF


Every once in a while a dialogue comes through (via comments) on a post that is worthy of further debate. Below is just the kind of dialogue I’m refering to. I hope you will agree.

 

Plum Island Animal Disease Center (Unedited) Satellite Image

 

Save_PIADC writes:

Thanks for your coverage.

The internal DHS Study Committee (SSRA) was about as close to an “inside job” as you could assemble and virtually all of the panelists had glaring conflicts of interest and personal stakes in seeing this project move forward.

Both of the USDA “independent experts” on the SSRA, Drs. Cyril Gay and Randall Leavings, were also members of the initial NBAF site visit team. Their efforts as site visit team members, largely informed the decision of siting NBAF in Kansas. They may have also met with Senator Pat Roberts during their 2007 site visits in Kansas.

SSRA members Steve Bennett, Dr. Michelle Colby, Dr. Bruce Harper and Dr. Joanne Jones-Meehan are all DHS employees. The notion that they would cast a skeptical eye towards a pet project of the DHS Secretary is laughable.

SSRA member Dr. David Brake is a contractor for DHS at Plum Island and his firm would have a vested financial stake in an expanded DHS countermeasure enterprise at NBAF.

SSRA member Dr. Josh Fine (SAIC) is also a contractor for DHS at Plum Island. His firm, SAIC, could potentially stand to gain a windfall if selected to provide SETA contract support at NBAF.

SSRA member Dr. Ted Schroeder is a professor at Kansas State. No conflict of interest there;) SSRA member Dr. Charles Hobbs is a “senior scientist emeritus” at the Lovelace Respiratory Reserach Institute. Lovelace’s President and CEO, Dr. Robert Rubin, was appointed in 2007 by then-Governor Kathleen Sebelius to serve on the “NBAF in Kansas Task Force.” Of course, there is no chance that Dr. Hobbs would come out against a major policy goal of his instiution’s President and CEO.

Other than the two HHS members, the SSRA panelists were riddled with ethical, professional, personal and financial conflicts of interest.

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Part 4



Kudos goes to Robert K. Schaeffer of Manhattan, Kansas  for a moment of critical thinking regarding the National Bio and Agro Defense Factiliy, (NBAF) and it’s risk to the community of Manhattan,KS.

NBAF risk

Proponents of National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility argue that the risk is low of accidentally or intentionally releasing lethal pathogens (anthrax, plague) from the germ lab. But it is not up to government officials to assess the level of risk. Instead, the private insurance companies that provide coverage to households and businesses in Manhattan will determine the level of risk.

If insurance companies view the risk of NBAF as low — as rare as an earthquake in Kansas — households might pay about 5 percent more on their insurance policies, about $40 a year, according to insurance company estimates. Together, the 19,170 households in Manhattan would pay $766,800 a year, or $7.6 million over the next 10 years, to protect themselves from a big government project that puts their lives and property at risk.

But if insurance companies view the risk as high — as risky as a major quake in California — households could see their insurance premiums rise by 60 percent or $480 a year, which would amount to $9.2 million annually or $92 million over the next 10 years.

Federal and state officials should answer these questions: Will insurance companies provide coverage for the risks associated with NBAF? How much will premiums increase for households, businesses and Kansas State University? And what will they do if companies refuse to offer coverage or if they charge prohibitive rates?

ROBERT K. SCHAEFFER

Manhattan

Clearly the NBAF will be a money-maker for all “Businesses”, but what of the communities who will host and fund the facility? Folks in Butner, North Carolina and Athens, Georgia  have already spoken, been there and have a T-shirt.  What’s the old saying “if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is?  Wake-up Kansas! The threat of Foot and Mouth disease for farmers should be a pricey proposition, don’t you think? Or do you?

In a Press Release this past week, Congressman Tim Bishop of New York stated that it is “highly unrealistic” that the sale of Plum Island (PIADC) at an “estimated value of $50-80 million could possibly cover the over $650 million cost of constructing NBAF”.

“Highly Unrealistic”? You think?  On what planet does the sale of a $50-80 million piece of  highly contaminated government property pay for the construction of a new $650 million facility?

First of all let’s not forget the  Congressional Research Service estimated back in 08′ that the clean-up of  Plum Island would top $100 million and that was their best estimate at the time.

Bottom line, DHS has toyed with the sale of Plum Island (PIADC) for almost two years now as noted in a previous post I wrote back in 08′, yet they (DHS) still have not completed a Congressionally mandated comprehensive risk assessment of the NBAF’s actual final design. Moreover, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has completed 4 oversight reports on High-Containment Biosafety Laboratories in the U.S.; two specifically analysing the methodology used to justify the research slated for Plum Island’s (PIADC) replacement the NBAF. Isn’t it past time for this Bush-era knee jerk, behemoth to disappear? It was and still is a bad  idea and;

Given our nation’s mounting budget deficits, many have questioned the wisdom of spending approximately $1 billion of taxpayer dollars to create a massive new research facility that would duplicate many of the functions currently served by Plum Island and other existing facilities.  

Congressman Bishop has the right idea, we should tell Price and the other members of the House subcommittee on Homeland Security we do not support this project. Why? Think of it this way, here we are three years into the project, now Kansas and DHS are pushing lawmakers for a biological TARP bail-out in the name of national security. Or is it really more about research grants and corporate profits? If you’re a critical thinker you already have the answer.

Just, where are those Teabaggers when you need them?

Remember NBAF? Thank you, GNAT! | Click to visit their website | NoBio.org

Source: Barton Kunstler, Ph.D | The Huffington Post

Earlier this year, during an audit of the nation’s largest Level-4 BioSafety Lab (BSL-4) at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, 9,220 vials of ebola, anthrax, botulinum, equine encephalitis virus, and other deadly germs were discovered in the proverbial dusty old storage area. No one even knew the vials existed and thus no one knows for sure whether any are missing.

But not to worry, according to officials. The vials were old and lost long before new documentation procedures were put in place. Besides, the lab is being expanded and updated with the latest security devices. Such reassuring mantras resound after every oil and chemical spill, radioactive discharge from nuclear power plant (more frequent than generally realized), black-market uranium sale, and mishandled nuclear bomb: “It may seem dangerous, but trust us – there wasn’t enough poison to hurt a fly and besides, we’re sure we recovered everything.”

Very likely – hopefully – at Fort Detrick they did. But the most important question remains unanswered: can any BSL-4, the labs with the deadliest, often highly contagious, bacteria and viruses, ever be truly fail-safe? After all, at some point that old storeroom in Fort Detrick was state-of-the-art. Human error applies not only to daily procedures, but to equipment that always seems so pristine when new. Proponents of BSL-4s argue that without these research labs we stand defenseless against a natural outbreak of disease or bio-terrorist attack. And, they say, the labs are so safe that the chances of a disease-spreading breach approach zero.

The problem is, neither of these assertions is strictly true. Vaccines against Level-4 Ebola and Marburg viruses have been developed in Level-2 labs by inserting their DNA into non-pathogenic viruses that can trigger immune responses just as definitively as the deadly pathogen. Scientists can therefore develop vaccines against deadly bacteria and viruses without actually handling the germs themselves. And the Level-4 labs may very well make our world more dangerous rather than safer and more secure. However modern and up-to-date a laboratory, it is still subject to human error, violence, neglect, and systemic breakdown. The Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Great Britain in 2007 was due, according to the British government’s inquiry, to “poor training and incompetence” and a “creeping degradation of standards”, while the 2001 outbreak was attributed by the government to an employee who smuggled out a vial of FMD from his lab.

Image: Plum Island's Lab 257

“Creeping degradation” is probably responsible for most industrial and infrastructural accidents. The case of Plum Island off the northeast coast of Long Island, New York, home to a now-closed Level-4 lab, illustrates the problem. Many believe Plum Island responsible for Lyme Disease, borne by deer swimming five miles from the island to the Connecticut coast near Lyme where the first outbreaks occurred. Lab 257 by Michael Carroll details how protocols and procedures at Plum Island eventually unraveled. Countless small oversights and flaws in equipment, procedures, and human judgment tend to build up over time to generate distinct vulnerabilities until an otherwise controllable opportunistic event spins out of control.

It is often claimed that BSL-4s have a flawless safety record, although the 9,220 recovered vials seem to undermine that claim. More importantly, only two Level-4 labs have operated in the United States until recently and their documentation has been in disarray, as Fort Detrick’s spokesperson admitted to explain how the vials went missing.

There is, in fact, no real documentation that BSL-4 labs have been operating safely. As with the oft-ignored low-level radioactive releases from nuclear power plants, small accidents can be ignored or covered up; it takes a major disaster to enter public consciousness. Recently, the city of Boston had to admit that the news of the infection of three BSL-2 lab workers in a lab had been suppressed by the lab and city officials. Mayor Menino assured us that if the public had been in danger, they would have told us sooner. Granted, Level-2 labs are not built to be foolproof and the diseases harbored there are far milder than in BSL-4s, but when infection at a BSL-2 is kept under wraps, would a more serious threat have been publicized, especially with no real emergency response mechanism in place in most communities?

According to the Sunshine Project, “Three Texas A&M University biodefense researchers were infected with the biological weapons agent Q Fever in 2006. The infections were confirmed in April of that year, but Texas A&M officials did not report them to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as required by law. Instead, Texas A&M officials covered the infections up until now, illegally failing to disclose them despite freedom of information requests dating back to October 2006.” This was in addition to a brucella infection at the lab, news of which was also withheld from the public. In response to these events, the Center for Disease Control ordered the lab to shut down its bioweapons research, citing – in a detailed report issued August 31, 2007 – a host of violations of basic safety protocols at the lab. Other accidents at BSL-3s have recently occurred at the University of New Mexico (anthrax, 2003 and unidentified pathogen in 2004); Medical University of Ohio (2004, Level-3 Valley Fever); University of Chicago (2005, Level 3, possibly anthrax or plague); and UC Berkeley (2005, Level 3 aerosolized, weaponized Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). From 2005-2006, University of Wisconsin at Madison (UW) researchers made and manipulated copies of the Ebola virus genome even though the federal government stipulates that such research must take place at a BSL-4. (It should be noted that Level-3 pathogens can be every bit as dangerous as Level 4s and include many of the more contagious germs; it’s just they’ve been shown to respond to antibiotics). All these cases occurred after 2001, when the through-the-mail anthrax attacks supposedly led to tighter security and more sophisticated protocols at BSL-3s and BSL-4s.

The dangers posed by biolabs often fly under the radar, but that may be changing. The General Accounting Office, in a report released this past September 21st, stated that the rapid – and often unregulated – proliferation of Level 3 and Level 4 labs places the public at significant risk. The public would do well to question the knee-jerk “security at all costs” policy of the federal government which threatens to build up stores of the world’s deadliest organisms across the United States. As for proponents’ arguments that the labs are absolutely safe and absolutely necessary, we shall address them soon in another post.

 

Abandoned, Lab 257

Debate Over Facility’s Fate Rages On

Homeland Security gets an earful in Congress over a potentially risky move

Source: By Jennifer Landes ~ East Hampton Star

Concern in Congress over the transfer of research on live foot-and-mouth virus from the Plum Island Animal Disease Center to one of five mainland sites competing for a new agro-terrorism research facility might work in the East End’s favor, according to Representative Tim Bishop.

    “The ideal outcome for the East End of Long Island is that Plum Island remain a [Biosafety Level 3] facility, conducting its current research,” he said. “I believe we should keep that kind of research on an island as mandated under current law.”

    Last Thursday, the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on the potential move. Representatives of the Government Accountability Office were critical of the research that the Department of Homeland Security used to determine that moving such research to the mainland would not increase the risk of an outbreak. They read from their report on the research, which was released at the hearing.

    In a statement, Senator Charles Schumer said the report was “a troubling window into D.H.S.’s flawed decision-making process and shows that D.H.S. should have left Plum Island a Biosafety Level 3 research center studying animal and plant diseases. Instead, for suspect reasons, they created the false choice of closing it down or pursuing an unwanted and unwarranted Biosafety Level 4 facility, which the delegation and the community will continue to oppose.”

    Nancy Kingsbury, a research director for the accountability office, said at the hearing that the Department of Homeland Security “had not conducted or commissioned any study to determine whether foot-and-mouth disease could be studied safely on the mainland.”

    Instead, it used a study from 2002 that looked only at the feasibility of relocating the facility. “That’s a different question than if it can be done safely . . . there was no risk assessment,” and no study of the history of virus releases and the difficulties involved in the containment of large animals, she said.

    Although Ms. Kingsbury acknowledged that “location in general has no particular advantage” in whether a virus is released, “it can help in the control in the spread of pathogens.”

A Threat to our Nation’s Security

By Judy Winters

The code of conduct and research that will be performed at the proposed National Bio Agro Defense Facility has been the subject of intense opposition within several communities affected by the eventual placement of proposed lab. The consortia vying for the NBAF have dismissed the concerns of the communities, stating that accidents and security breaches are simply not something we should concern ourselves with. However, concerns regarding the production of a more virulent pathogen or potential bioweapons are valid. This degree of hubris sank the Titanic; it certainly should not be applied to life sciences and the eventual operation of a BSL 4 bio-defense facility. Concerns relating to Bio weapons proliferation have evolved from a genre of research referred to as “Dual Use” biotechnology. The “Dual use Dilemma ” has been the subject of a highly contentious, political and social debate for years.

The research activities that will take place at the NBAF are precisely the type of research that generates the most concern. It is difficult to distinguish bio-defense research from bio-weapons research. In order to make vaccines against deadly biological agents, the deadly biological agents have to be created. The US programs, particularly, the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Homeland Security (DHS), are increasingly focused on “threat assessment” activities and studies where researchers deliberately create the “threat”, thus creation of the weapon, claiming they are learning to defend against it.

Dual use research is difficult to articulate and has different meaning depending on how the research is being applied. Some describe “dual use” research as that of a double- edged sword of rDNA research advancement. The research can be used for legitimate agricultural and public health advancements, but if misused, the same research technology could have disastrous consequences. Biotechnology in the hands of a rogue government, a terrorist or a simple act of greed and someone’s willingness to sell a product or an associated technology on the black-market would have the unprecedented potential for destructive and deadly widespread applications as a bio-weapon.

Should individuals living in the proximity of a BSL 4 agricultural facilities be concerned? Consider for a moment the average US citizen may never know a biological threat exist until it is too late. The Bioterrorism Act of 2002 prohibits the public disclosure of any theft or loss of a potential bioterrorism agent, as well as any information related to site-specific security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to biological agents. Although reporting of releases and thefts of bioterrorism agents from facilities and laboratories are mandatory, the Secretary of Health and Human Services may only provide public notification if the incident represents a serious public health emergency. This would include the communities surrounding the NBAF.

 With the increase in the US bio-defense spending since 9/11, many have warned of the potential for disastrous consequences of misused biotechnology research.

 The former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave a stark warning before his retirement in 2006, a warning that the world would be foolish to ignore. Annan warned that as biological research expands and advanced biotechnologies become more available the associated safety and security risks will increase exponentially. “When used negligently, or misused deliberately, biotechnology could inflict the most profound human suffering—ranging from the accidental release of disease agents into the environment to intentional disease outbreaks caused by state or non-state actors,” Annan warned, “Soon, tens of thousands of laboratories worldwide will be operating, in a multi-billion dollar industry. Even novices working in small laboratories will be able to carry out gene manipulation.

One of the most difficult and pressing issues at hand for all involved in “life sciences”, and dual use research programs such as pharmaceutical companies, academia and government laboratories is whether the risks associated with the misuse of the technology can be minimized while still enabling critical research to continue. This is a risky juxtaposition for the scientific community entering into the bio-defense research considering they want the freedom to do the research suitable for publication and self-regulate and yet the DHS will desire to keep the research classified.

Texas A&M’s bio-defense program is a good example of how issues that just are over looked could potentially have disastrous consequences if the viruses they were working with were more lethal. The university failed to report to federal authorities’ one lab worker’s infection with Brucella and several others’ exposure to Q fever. The failure to report the employees contamination was brought to the attention of Federal authorities by a bioweapons proliferation watchdog group know as the Sunshine Project . Otherwise, this incident would have never been reported.

  The “designer bugs” produced in these types of BSL 4 facilities are more virulent than their naïve counterparts. Moreover, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIH) , 18 of the BSL 4 select agents are capable of rapid widespread human de-population, with no known cure or vaccine. Citizens should question an agency with so many documented failures to regulate itself, while safely operating a BSL 4 Bio containment facility.

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  The legacy of Plum Island Animal Disease Center is not one of promise and prosperity it is one of security breaches, enviromental releases and funding cuts. The funding and the grants will be of benefit to the business special interest, Academia and Universities not surrounding communities.  The community will be left with what New York residents are being left with, a dangerous bio hazard on a massive scale.  Ask yourself, Is the legacy of PIADC what you want for your children and  grandchildren? 

 The summary below is part of a petition. It outlines many issues that have not been part of the public debate. It appears here with the permission of the author,  Dr. Joseph Melamed,  Dr. Melamed recently had this to say about the lab, ” This is not a political, economic, or race issue. It is a public health issue”.  

Proposed National Bio Agra Defense Facility at Butner, NC 

  • In 2008 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will determine where to relocate the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) currently located on an isolated 840 acre island off the North Fork of Long Island in New York.
  • One of the five remaining sites under consideration is a federally owned farm in Butner, NC, located three miles from I85 near Lake Michie, the water supply for Durham and in the watershed for Falls Lake, Raleigh’s water supply.
  • The proposed facility will include a “BSL-4” laboratory, defined by DHS as one which studies “microorganisms that pose a high risk of life-threatening diseases for which there is no known vaccine or therapy.”
  • DHS states that “Examples of microorganisms that could possibly be studied in a NBAF BSL-4 lab include Nipah, and Hendra viruses, both of which are emerging zoonotic diseases that can spread from their natural reservoir to human beings, and are often fatal.”
  • Other diseases that could be studied in the proposed BSL-4 facility include: Ebola, Small Pox, various deadly hemorrhagic fever viruses, and weaponized versions of Anthrax.
  • According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) the NBAF organisms studied at the proposed Butner lab would include “…the world’s most dangerous microbes, several capable of rapid widespread human depopulation.”
  • A NC consortium promoting the facility along with local officials contend that the facility will boost the local economy and that it will be “leak proof” and completely safe.
  • Deputy Raleigh City Attorney, Dan McLawhorn, has filed objections to the funding and construction of the proposed germ laboratory in Butner, N.C. citing concerns over flow of wastewater into the watershed serving Raleigh.
  • To date, Butner city commissioners’ request for an informational meeting with DHS officials has gone unanswered.
  • The existing PIADC which the proposed facility will replace has a disastrous record of leaks and security breaches:
    • July 21, 1954 – Plum Island worker contracts Vesicular Stomatitis after exposure to an infected animal.
    • December 24, 1967 – The New York Times reports “Fatal Virus Found in Wild Ducks on L.I.”  A virus never before seen in the Western Hemisphere, which began with ducks on the North and South Forks of Long Island opposite Plum Island, spread across the entire continent by 1975.
    • 1971 – USDA proclaims that “Plum Island is considered the safest in the world on virus diseases.  As proof of this statement there has never been a disease outbreak among the susceptible animals maintained outside the laboratory on the island since it was established.”
    • 1975 – PIADC begins work feeding viruses to “hard tics,” including the Lone Star tic (now endemic to NY but before 1975 never seen outside of Texas) which is a carrier of Borelia burgdorferi, the Lyme Disease bacteria.  First cases of the disease later known as Lyme Disease reported in Connecticut and Eastern Long Island, both directly across form Plum Island.  Current epidemiologic data shows that epicenter of all U.S. cases of Lyme disease was centered at Plum Island, N.Y.
    • September 15, 1978 – News release: “Foot and Mouth Disease has been diagnosed in cattle in a pre-experimental animal holding facility at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.”  A documented outbreak had occurred.
    • 1979 – Internal investigation of the foot and mouth disease outbreak uncovers massive widespread failures in containment systems at PIADC.  Committee report: “Recommend that Lab 101 not be considered as a safe facility in which to do work on exotic disease agents until corrective action is accomplished.”
    • 1979 – Disregarding the committee recommendation, the US Army undertakes investigation of deadly “Zagazig 501” strain of Rift Valley Fever at PIADC.  Sheep held outside of the lab that should have been destroyed as part of the containment policy following the foot and mouth disease outbreak were vaccinated with an experimental Rift Valley Fever vaccine, in violation of the lab’s primary directive prohibiting outdoor experiments.
    • 1982 – Federal review board begun after foot and mouth outbreak issues annual report: “We believe there is a potentially dangerous situation and that without an immediate massive effort to correct deficiencies, a severe accident could result… [L]ack of preventive maintenance, [and] pressures by management to expedite programs have resulted in compromising safety.”
    • 1983 – Six Plum Island workers test positive for African Swine fever virus.  Workers were not notified of their results.
    • 1991 – Federal government decides to privatize PIADC.  A New Jersey company, Burns & Roe Services Corporation, is the low bidder and is awarded the contract.  In order to cut costs, expensive safety and security measures are scaled back.
    • June 1991 – An underground power cable supplying Lab 257 at PIADC shorts out and is not replaced because there was no money left in the budget.
    • August 18, 1991 – Category 3 Hurricane Bob hits Plum Island knocking down overhead power lines connecting Lab 257 to its only remaining source of electricity, a generator at another location on the island.  Freezers containing virus samples defrost, air seals on lab doors are breached, and animal holding room vents fail.  The lab’s ‘fail-safe’ mechanism of ‘air dampers’ to seal off the facility also fail in the open position.  Melted virus samples mix with infected animal waste on the floor while swarms of mosquitoes fill the facility.
    • September 1991 – USDA denies that any system failures occurred during the hurricane.  Both workers in Lab 257 at the time of the blackout are fired.  Both later develop mysterious undiagnosed diseases.
    • 1992 – OSHA and EPA cite PIADC with hundreds of safety violations.  OSHA returned five years later and found that the violations had not been corrected.  At that time 124 new violations were found.
    • July 13, 1992 – While USDA continues to officially deny that any biological weapons research takes place at PIADC, fourteen Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army, and Pentagon officials visit Plum Island.  Internal documents indicate that the visit was “to meet with [Plum Island] staff regarding biological warfare.”
    • Early 1990s – PIADC annual report to Congress is eliminated.
    • August 1999 – First four human cases of West Nile virus ever reported in the Western hemisphere are diagnosed on Long Island, NY.  Horse farms, all within a five mile radius of one another, on the North Fork of Long Island directly opposite Plum Island, report horses dying following seizures.  25% of the horses in this small area test positive for West Nile virus.  Of the 271,000 equines tested in three states at the time of the outbreak only those on the North Fork of Long Island were positive.
    • 1999 – New York Postquotes USDA spokesperson: “…top security [at Plum Islands] does not mean top-secret.” In spite of this statement, attempts to obtain information on the inventory of viruses in storage at PIADC under the federal freedom of information act were denied on the basis of ‘national security.’
    • 1999 – A cold war era document is declassified proving that in the early 1950s twelve vials of weaponized Anthrax (enough to kill over 1 million people) were shipped to PIADC.  This revelation directly contradicts prior official statements to the contrary by government agencies.
    • 1999 – New York Timesreports that PIADC is quietly beginning to upgrade to BSL-4 status.  Public outcry prompts US Congressman Mike Forbes to intervene and funding for the project is killed in the 2001 federal budget.
    • July 2000 – New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finds “very troubling” hazardous waste violations at PIADC prompting New York State attorney general to sue USDA.
    • July 2001 – Court approved consent order forces USDA to admit to sewage discharge violations.
    • September 2001 – Shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks someone begins sending weaponized Anthrax through the US mail, killing five people.  Genetic analysis showed that the dry Anthrax spores used in the attack originated from USAMRIID (Fort Detrick, MD).
    • Even though USDA continued to deny the presence of weaponized Anthrax at PIADC the FBI included the following questions in their polygraph tests of scientists under investigation: “Have you ever been to Plum Island?” “Do you know anyone who works at Plum Island?” “What do they do there?”
    • August 2002 – PIADC workers go out on strike to protest unsafe working conditions.
    • December 2002 – National Resources Defense Council names Plum Island “number 2” of 12 worst polluters in N.Y. and N.J.  A state senator on the task force comments: “What disturbs me is the consistent flow of misinformation….  I feel that some of the misinformation borders on a cover-up.  [I]t shakes the foundation of our very form of government.”
    • 2002 – Pakistani police arrest Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, a nuclear physicist with ties to Osama Bin Laden, and Mullah Omar.  From his residence they recover material on Plum Island.
    • June 2003 – President George W. Bush transfers control of PIADC to Homeland Security.  Airspace over Plum Island remains unrestricted, and gates to Lab 101 are open and unguarded.
    • Leaks and security breeches have occurred at BSL-4 labs, not just at PIADC
      • 1994 – Virologist at Yale infected with Sabia virus (now designated as a BSL-4 agent).  75 other workers exposed.
      • 2001 – Multiple researchers infected with Plague at Rocky Mountain Lab in Montana.
      • April 2002 – Anthrax spores leaked at USAMRIID Lab (Fort Detrick, MD).  Researcher tests positive for Anthrax.
      • March 1, 2003 – A package containing West Nile virus explodes at a Federal Express building in Columbus, OH airport exposing workers.
      • June, 2003 – 113 vials of Anthrax, Brucelosis, Ebola, and other organisms uncovered during excavation of a toxic waste site at Fort Detrick, MD

Dr. Tindall of the Triangle Biotechnology Institute, spokesman for the North Carolina consortium promoting the NBAF, had this to say in response to various questions about the proposed Butner facility.

  • Question:On December 15, 2000 The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) supported the construction of a new BSL-4 (Rocky Mountain Laboratory) because “…the RML campus is located in rural western Montana, well removed from major population centers.  The location of the laboratory reduces the possibility that an accidental release of a biosafety level-4 organism would lead to a major public health disaster.”  In light of this internal government document which recommends siting a BSL-4 lab in an isolated area to protect the public, how do you explain your consortium’s support for siting the proposed NBAF in Butner within a 50 mile radius of nearly 2 million people?
  • Answer:  The proximity of the Butner, NC site to the scientific resources of RTP, the NC State veterinary school, and the various university research centers outweighs the potential downside of locating the facility just outside a major population center, and in immediate proximity to the water supply for Raleigh and Durham.
  • Question:  What diseases would be studied in the NBAF BSL-4 lab if it comes to Butner?
  • Answer:  Only Nipah and Hendra viruses.
  • Questions:  Might DHS decide at some time in the future to study other BSL-4 agents such as Ebola?
  • Answer:  Yes.
  • Question:  The DHS website indicates that Foot and Mouth Disease is among the “diseases that would potentially be studied at the NBAF.”  But, Public Law 48-496 passed by the U.S. Congress in April 1948, states that “…no live virus of foot and mouth disease may be introduced for any purpose into any part of the mainland of the United States except coastal islands separated therefrom by waters navigable for deep-water navigation and which shall not be connected with the mainland by any tunnel….”  Given existing federal law, how could DHS bring foot and mouth disease to Butner, N.C.?
  • Answer:  They could not unless Congress changed the law.
  • Question:  According to the DHS website “There has never been a public exposure at a BSL-4 lab in the United States.”  Is that true?
  • Answer:  Yes.
  • Question:  What about a 1/21/2002 Washington Postreport which uncovered the loss of dangerous microbes including Ebola from Fort Detrick in the 1990s?  Or the deadly 2001 U.S Mail attacks with weaponized Anthrax originating from Fort Detrick?
  • Answer:  none.
  • Question:  When attempts were made to obtain information about Plum Island under the freedom of information act they were blocked for reasons of national security, even though USDA claimed that ‘top secret’ work was not taking place there.  Now that the U.S. is at war, we are living in a ‘post 9/11’ era and DHS has assumed control of the NBAF from USDA, it seems logical that research at the proposed Butner lab which is replacing PIADC would continue to be “classified” for reasons of national security. Will that be the case?
  • Answer:No classified research will take place at the NBAF.
  • Question:  According to the scoping materials, the final decision regarding bringing NBAF to Butner is to be made in Washington, D.C., solely by DHS officials.   If federal officials decide to bring NBAF to Butner, would people living near this facility have any mechanism to influence what goes on there?
  • Answer:  Yes.  There will be a local oversight board.
  • Question:  Can you give me some details about that?
  • Answer:  No.

We, the undersigned physicians, believe that the proposed NBAF poses a dire and unjustified health risk not only for the local population in Granville County, but also for the entire triangle region.  To date, the public has been poorly informed of the exceptional risk posed by this facility.  We believe it is our duty as physicians to educate the public so that they may protect themselves against this infringement of their right to remain safe in their own homes.

 

Also here is a  must read white paper on  Plum Island’s/ NBAF  Dual Use Research is a risk to Nation Security.

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