Health Justice for Boston ~ Number 4. April 2014

Time to Stop the BU Biolab!

On Wednesday, April 16, 2014 at 4PM the Boston City Council Committee on Government Operations, chaired by Councilors Michael Flaherty and Tito Jackson, will  hold a public hearing in the Council Chambers, which is located on the 5th floor in Boston City Hall on:

AN ORDINANCE REGARDING THE PROHIBITION OF RESEARCH DESIGNATED AS BIOSAFETY LEVEL 4 (BSL4)

Sponsors: Councilors Charles Yancey, Tito Jackson & Ayanna Pressley

This is a culminating event in the long struggle to make sure that Biosafety Level 4 research will never be done in Boston. The Center for Disease Control defines Biosafety Level 4 containment as "required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections and life-threatening disease that is frequently fatal, and for which there are no vaccines or treatments.” Disease-causing organisms used in BSL4 laboratories include viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, Lassa and Hemorrhagic fever.

Boston University’s BSL4 laboratory, like those established in the immediate years following the 2001 anthrax scare, aims to fulfill a biodefense - not a public health - mission. Excessive concern with bioterrorism led to the proliferation of high containment labs which has come at the expense of much needed funding for public health research.

The NEIDL laboratory (National Emerging Infectious Disease Lab) on Albany Street in Roxbury/South End is located in a designated environmental justice neighborhood which already suffers from an excess of environmental hazards. The lab overshadows the community’s most at-risk groups, including guests at Rosie’s Place, children enrolled in Orchard Park Elementary School and residents of the Cathedral Housing Development. Residents of Roxbury, Dorchester and other surrounding communities have repeatedly demonstrated their opposition to the NEIDL during 12 years of efforts to stop the lab. It is difficult to fathom the decision to pursue such dangerous research in a densely populated, low-income area in the middle of the city.

Inadvertent or intentional release of pathogens has been named by the Centers for Disease Control as one of the top five health threats of 2013. Accidents and other alarming incidents at BSL3 and BSL4 labs are numerous and continue to surface. The Marathon bombing raises awareness of the NEIDL as a potential terrorist target. Improbable events do occur and, when they do, they may have terrible consequences.

Please share this information with your friends and lists, particularly with people who live in Boston. We have a chance of stopping Level 4 research in our city if there is enough public awareness and action!

All who oppose this research can have input by emailing their testimony to:

Michael.F.Flaherty@boston.gov

Tito.Jackson@cityofboston.gov

Ayanna.Pressley@cityofboston.gov

Charles.Yancey@cityofboston.gov

Your message can be as simple as "I support the Ordinance to Ban BSL4 research in the City of Boston" or it can be far more involved. What is important is that you let the City Councilors know you oppose this research.

Mass-Care Spring Gala

Ryles Jazz Club, Inman Square, Cambridge
Saturday, April 12th, 1:00 PM - 4:30 PM
Honoring:    Julie Pinkham, RN, MNA
Paul Toner, MTA
Keynote:     Don Berwick, MD
Refreshments:    S&S Deli
Raffle & Entertainment too!
For ticket or program ads, contact:
Mass-Care @ 617-723-7001 or director@masscare.org

What is Healthcare Justice?

  • Access: Can you get the care you need?
  • Affordability: Will you go bankrupt if you do?
  • Quality: Will you survive your encounter?
  • Equality: Do you meet special barriers to care?

 

Directory:

For more information on campaigns to make health care a right, not a commodity:

Mass-Care
Healthcare NOW!
Labor Campaign for Single Payer

For help navigating the current system:

Boston Mayor’s HealthLine @ 617-534-5050

Health Care For All - Massachusetts
Consumer Health HelpLine @ 800-272-4232

Massachusetts Health Connector
Customer Support @ 877-623-6765

Sponsor: Boston Ad Hoc Committee for Healthcare Justice

For more information, contact:

Quentin Davis @ 617-553-2949 or davisquestin@gmail.com
Sandy Eaton @ 617-510-6496 or sandyern@comcast.net

Health Justice for Boston is archived on Seachange Bulletin.