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Bidding War for Biowarfare Labs The Germs Next Door

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seemslikeadream Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Mar-26-08 04:26 PM
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Bidding War for Biowarfare Labs The Germs Next Door
http://www.counterpunch.org/cox03262008.html

Do I hear a bid?

Lying off the east end of New York's Long Island, Plum Island (which was under the Department of Agriculture until 2002) is the only place in the nation where scientists have previously been allowed to handle the pathogens that cause foot-and-mouth disease, rinderpest, Rift Valley fever, African swine fever, and other horrific maladies that, if let loose on the mainland, could cause billions in agricultural losses and even threaten human populations.

NBAF will be a "biosafety level 4" (BL-4) facility, providing the highest degree of isolation for the world's most dangerous organisms (Plum Island was one notch down, at BL-3, because it was isolated by water). Locations being eyed as possible sites include the University of Georgia campus in Athens; the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan; Flora, Mississippi, near the capital city of Jackson; a research farm 17 miles northeast of Duke University in North Carolina; and a former ranch near San Antonio, Texas.

There is cutthroat competition for the lab, with DHS being courted with the kinds of incentives that go to all big potential employers. The University of Georgia has offered 66 acres of prime real estate worth $15 million and $4.5 million in road and utility improvements. The Kansas Senate approved the issue of $164 million in bonds to pay for land, roads, and security for NBAF. Now, DHS is reportedly demanding that the lab, wherever it is sited, have its own energy source, a natural gas-fired power plant. Governor Kathleen Sebelius immediately agreed to throw that into the Kansas bid.


A big bio-gamble

Every potential location for the bioterror facility lies close to large human and animal populations. In Manhattan, Kansas, for example, the lab would be located not only in an agricultural region, and not only in the nation's second most tornado-prone state, but also within hailing distance of a senior-citizen home, a student housing area, an affordable-housing complex, a student recreation facility, a football stadium, and a basketball arena.
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