Massachusetts Background: BU Triumphant & Shamed

Massachusetts Background:

Information About the Proposed South End Biodefense

Adam Smith, Sampan, April 12, 2004

Boston University Medical Center plans to build a high-level
biodefense research laboratory in the South End. Only about four such labs (also
called BSL 4 labs) are in operation in the country. The laboratories are
controversial because they house research of highly infectious, hazardous and
exotic pathogens, such as Ebola. Sampan has written many stories about the
laboratory, which will be housed in the nearly 15-acre BioSquare research
complex, whose program manager is Robert Walsh, a former Boston Redevelopment
Authority director. BioSquare was first proposed in the early 1990s but only
parts of it have been completed. The original plan included bioresearch
facilities as well as a hotel and parking garages. The new project - the result
of federal grant money to create the biodefense laboratory - includes no hotel,
a cutback in laboratory space and the top-level biodefense laboratory.

A valued new neighbor

Boston Herald, April 22, 2004

The national bioresearch lab proposed for Boston University
Medical Center has been the victim of a raging outbreak of that most infectious
of diseases - ignorance. It's one thing to be afraid of that which we don't
know. That's quite natural. It's another to simply ignore the facts. And that is
what is going on with the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, as
it is properly known. The $178 million project, expected to generate some 660
permanent new jobs, would be largely federally funded and could open as part of
the medical center's BioSquare campus by 2007. An estimated 13 percent of the
facility's space (a nine-story building is planned) would be devoted to a secure
biosafety Level 4 research site with state-of-the-art security, including
biometric ID systems and retinal scans. ...

Editorial Comment: The Boston Herald editorial board is nothing
if not consistent. They see no danger in unsafe staffing and market-driven
health care. They repeatedly come out against minimum, enforceable RN-to-patient
ratios and universal health care. They unreservedly support every initiative of
the Bush/Cheney administration, including bioterror proliferation. If it
enriches the corporate bottom line, it passes ethical muster.

Fear in the Air

Michael Blanding, Boston Magazine, June 2004.

Depending on who you believe, a new bioterror laboratory
planned by Boston University will be a boon to the city - or a catastrophe
beyond imagining. Anthrax. The word itself lodges in the mouth like a sore - the
nasal first syllable, the scrape of the tongue along the front teeth, the end
bristling in the back of the throat. Three years ago, few of us knew what it
was. Then traces of a white powder started showing up in post offices. And soon,
five people lay dead. The government responded to the scare by throwing money at
the problem. A lot of money. The federal budget for this year earmarks $3.8
billion for biodefense research including funding for 11 new biocontainment
laboratories. Two of these will be biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs for studying
the nastiest of the nasty. Think Ebola. Think plague. Think anthrax. Out of
seven applicants vying for the grants, two winners were chosen in the fall: the
University of Texas in Galveston and Boston University Medical Center in Boston.

When Bioterror Moves Next Door

It will be one of the safest and most hazardous places on

right in the heart of Boston, a laboratory to combat pathogens

Ebola, smallpox, and anthrax. Scientists are calling it a

lab, but others warn that it's a bioterror lab. So which is

Daniel Schulman & Adam Smith, Boston Globe Magazine, August
8, 2004

Deep within the US Army Medical Research Institute of
Infectious Diseases in Frederick, Maryland, a maze of hallways, done up
floor-to-ceiling in gradations of beige, leads to a wing called "the slammer."
The two-room isolation ward on the Fort Detrick base takes its name from the
unnerving clank that the reinforced-steel air lock makes as it seals behind you.
It sees very little action. When it does, something has gone very wrong. Last
winter, the ward saw its first patient in nearly 20 years after a young
researcher pricked herself with an Ebola-tainted needle while experimenting with
the deadly virus in one of the facility's maximum-containment, level-4 biosafety
laboratories - known as "hot" labs. She spent the better part of February in
quarantine, her only face-to-face contact coming with the medical personnel,
clad in protective gear, who periodically shuffled in to monitor her condition.
She exhibited no symptoms during her three-week internment. No longer a threat
to her colleagues, family, or the surrounding community, the young woman
returned to work. She was lucky. Months later, in May, under similar
circumstances - Ebola, a needle prick - a Russian researcher perished slowly in
isolation as fever gave way to vital organ failure, then to unfettered internal
bleeding. ...

BU uses T ads to promote benefits of biosafety

Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, September 30, 2004

It is a tried-and-true advertising formula: a cheery family, a
catchy tag line. What's different about the ad campaign that debuted this week
on T trains and buses is that it's trumpeting the virtues of a high-security
research lab in the South End where scientists would study the deadliest
biological agents known to mankind. Boston University Medical Center launched
the ads - emblazoned with the phrase ''Finding Cures. Saving Lives." - just days
before a public hearing on the lab by the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which
must give its blessing to the research center before it can be built. ... The
Boston lab, and another being built in Texas, are cornerstones of the Bush
administration's expanding initiative to prepare for acts of bioterrorism.
Hundreds of scientists would work in the building, hunting for vaccines and
treatments against deadly germs and viruses that could be turned into weapons.

Boston University lobbying for biosafety research

Associated Press, September 30, 2004

Boston - Boston University Medical Center is taking its message
of the benefits of a proposed $1.6 billion high-security biosafety research
laboratory to the people. The center has installed hundreds of ads - with the
slogan "Finding Cures. Saving Lives." - on subway cars and buses, just days
before a hearing on the Biosafety Level 4 lab called by the Boston Redevelopment
Authority. The agency must approve construction of the facility, where
scientists would study the deadliest biological agents known to mankind. The
thrust of the ads, which are aimed at residents of the South End and Roxbury
neighborhoods, where the lab would be built, is to explain that the facility
would not pose a risk, but instead would foster treatments for lethal diseases.

Campaign of deceit over biotech lab

Elliot G. Mishler, Cambridge, Boston Globe, October 6, 2004

Boston University's ads in T trains and buses trumpeting the
virtues of its proposed "high-security research lab"("BU uses T ads," Page C1,
Sept. 30) is the most recent instance of its campaign of deceit and evasion
regarding work that will go on in what is more accurately called a bioweapons
research facility. As your reporter points out, these labs are the
"cornerstones" of the Bush administration's bioterrorism initiative. If BU's
advertising slogan "Finding Cures, Saving Lives" really reflected the
end-products of such labs, why would 160 bioscientists, scholars, and public
health professionals in universities and medical schools in Greater Boston sign
a letter opposing construction of this laboratory, including several senior
faculty in BU's own School of Public Health? And why would residents in Roxbury
and the South End, with allies in nearby towns and cities, engage in an active
and growing protest movement focused on the dangers of building such a facility
in a densely populated area - a lab where "scientists would study the deadliest
biological agents known to mankind"? And, why would three Boston city councilors
prepare an ordinance to ban such labs? Obviously, biological scientists,
community residents, and councilors are all in favor of curing diseases and
saving lives. But they know that this aim is being undermined by the Bush
administration's policy of switching funds from other public health projects to
bioweapons research. ...

BU details security for planned biolab

Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald, October 14, 2004

A proposed laboratory where researchers would develop vaccines
to combat bioterrorism would have a state-of-the-art security system to prevent
leaks and attacks on the South End compound, a hospital official said yesterday.
Smaller, regional biosafety labs already exist in Atlanta, San Antonio and
Winnipeg, and there has never been a leak or an attack at any of them, said Dr.
Mark S. Klempner, associate provost for research at Boston University Medical
Center. The National Institute of Infectious Diseases has chosen BUMC and the
University of Texas at Galveston to build two national biocontainment
laboratories that would develop drugs, vaccines and treatments against
infectious diseases that occur naturally or are deliberately introduced through
bioterrorism, such as anthrax, botulism, plague and smallpox.

Biosafety Lab will find cures

Jack Murphy, BU Medical Center, Boston, Boston Globe, October
17, 2004

Elliot Mishler is incorrect in his description of the Biosafety
Laboratory at Boston University Medical Center ("Campaign of deceit over biotech
lab," letter, Oct. 6). The mission of the laboratory is to study emerging
infectious diseases, whether they occur naturally or are introduced through a
bioterrorism event. Boston University Medical Center officials have stated that
there will be no research on bioweapons conducted in this facility. Opponents of
the lab continue to spread this misinformation to scare residents. As a South
End resident, a biomolecular researcher for more than 30 years, and the
co-principal investigator on the laboratory, I believe that the Biosafety Lab
has a true public health mission - to find cures and save lives. ...

US says location of biolab is safe

Group criticizes South End site

Beth Daley, Boston Globe, October 30, 2004

A federal draft environmental review of Boston University
Medical Center's proposed high-security biodefense laboratory says the facility
as planned will be safe and have a negligible impact on the densely populated
South End neighborhood around it. However, a Boston-based environmental advocacy
group is criticizing the review as inadequate for failing to seriously consider
less-populated alternative sites for the biolab, which would research treatments
and vaccines for lethal agents such as anthrax and botulism. "They didn't do any
review of alternative locations," said Carrie Schneider, a lawyer with the
Conservation Law Foundation. "It's impossible to come out for it or against it
without a full picture. But we are very concerned about this infectious disease
lab being put into a very dense neighborhood." Federal draft environmental
impact statements typically include analyses of sites other than the main
proposed location, to ensure that the facility is built in the most suitable
place. ...

Surveillance system keeps a close eye on diseases in

Marie Szaniszlo, Boston Herald, November 4, 2004

Concerns about bioterrorism and infectious diseases have
prompted Boston and a growing number of other cities to start electronic
tracking systems to quickly detect outbreaks. By compiling data from emergency
rooms, poison control centers and other sources, Òsyndromic surveillanceÓ can
both serve as an early warning system and help eliminate false alarms, health
officials say. ÒIn the past, you could have an outbreak, and no one might detect
it because no one was putting together the big picture,Ó said Dr. Julie Pavlin,
chief of the Field Studies Department at the Walter Reed Army Institute of
Research. Pavlin was one of more than 400 participants from 43 states and 12
countries who attended the first day of the National Syndromic Surveillance
Conference yesterday at the Boston Marriott in Copley Square. ...

Grass-roots backing for Biolab not taking

Michael Jonas, Boston Globe, November 28, 2004

At first glance, it resembles many Boston development battles -
neighborhood groups pitted against big institutional players looking to build in
a city where people love urban living but often hate the idea of a new business
or building on their block. But this is no Dunkin' Donuts showdown, where
residents must weigh the benefits of a late-night chocolate-glazed against the
nuisance of added traffic and doughnut debris that might cake their
neighborhood. Boston University Medical Center's proposed $128 million
"biodefense lab" would bring the most deadly known pathogens and viruses to the
South End, part of a huge federal initiative to develop vaccines against
emerging threats such as anthrax and Ebola. The project raises the specter of an
accidental release of toxic agents or a targeted terrorist attack. ...

Spend wisely on bioterror

Boston Herald, November 29, 2003

The measure shouldn't be how quickly the money is spent, but
rather how well it is spent. Massachusetts may rank last in a national survey of
state spending rates of federal bioterrorism grants, but better that than
pouring the money down the maw of local governments ill-prepared to use it
wisely. In a survey conducted by a national public health association,
Massachusetts was 47th of 47 states responding in the spending of the first wave
of its $50 million share of federal bioterrorism funding since the Sept. 11
attacks. The Romney administration was slow to consolidate bioterrorism
coordination from three state agencies into one new Center for Emergency
Preparedness. But it's done now and Suzanne Condon, a talented state public
health leader, has been put in charge. A recent Washington Post investigation
into the haphazard expenditure of other federal homeland security funds assures
us that slower is, in some cases, better. ...

Editorial Comment: State workers hired to coordinate emergency
preparedness with cities and towns have been finding local offices of municipal
safety officers padlocked, with the town safety officers laid off due to cuts in
local aid.

Group gasses state bioterror readiness

Jack Meyers, Boston Herald, December 15, 2004

A national public health advocacy group yesterday gave
Massachusetts a bad diagnosis: The Bay State's readiness to deal with a
bioterrorism attack ranks dead last, tied with Alaska. The Romney
administration's public health chief disputed the ranking, saying the criteria
used by the nonprofit Trust for America's Health overlooked factors that make
Massachusetts a national leader in handling dangerous public health threats.
ÒThis report does not hold each state to the same standards,Ó said Public Health
Commissioner Christine C. Ferguson. She said the federal Centers for Disease
Control ranked Massachusetts as well prepared, with a round-the-clock disease
surveillance system and rapid laboratory responses to an emergency.
ÒMassachusetts is well prepared to respond to a public health emergency,Ó
Ferguson said. ...

Proposal to build biodefense lab clears final local

Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, January 13, 2005

A controversial plan to build a biodefense research laboratory
in the South End won final local approval yesterday, receiving the unanimous
support of the city's Zoning Commission. The action appeared to clear the last
significant barrier to a spring groundbreaking by Boston University Medical
Center for the Biosafety Level 4 lab, where scientists will have the license to
work with the deadliest known germs and viruses, including anthrax, plague, and
ebola. While the lab, which has the promise of generating $1.6 billion in
federal research and construction grants over the next two decades, must undergo
one last round of federal government scrutiny, that review is almost certainly a
formality. It was the same agency, the National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases, that selected BU in September 2003 to operate one of the
nation's two new Level 4 labs, cornerstones in the Bush administration's
campaign to prepare for acts of bioterrorism. ...

Biosafety lab does not belong in South End

So many bad reasons, but the Biosafety lab still has the Mayor's

Stephen Lan, The Daily Free Press, January 18, 2005

Mayor Thomas Menino speaks out against rent control, but at the
same time supports Boston University's construction of a Level 4 Biosafety
laboratory. One of the reasons the Mayor gave for rejecting rent control is it
would reduce the property tax revenue. However the Biosafety lab will be another
tax-exempt property in the City of Boston. Level 4 is a designation for
pathogens that have no known cure. It's a classification of an organism that
causes severe human disease and is a serious hazard to laboratory workers. It
may present a high risk of spreading into the community and there is usually no
effective treatment. I don't know why the mayor is helping Boston University
build a research facility that has the potential of generating revenue and
prestige for BU, but gives nothing tangible back to the community. ...

Bill proposes state regulations for biosafety

Shreema Mehta, The Daily Free Press, January 19, 2005

Roxbury activist groups and Massachusetts legislators recently
filed a bill to place Boston University's Biosafety Level 4 laboratory under
state jurisdiction. Organizations such as Alternatives for Community and
Environment and Safety Net will consider suing the university if the National
Institutes of Health gives a positive review of the lab's environmental impact
on the city, said Tomas Aguilar, an ACE spokesman. Aguilar said NIH did not
comply with the National Environmental Policy when it allocated $127 million to
BU before conducting an environmental review. Boston University officials could
not be reached for comment. Aguilar said ACE expects the NIH to release their
report in March or April. ACE, an environmental protection group, and Safety
Net, a tenants' rights group in Roxbury, worked with Rep. Gloria Fox (D -
Seventh Suffolk) to introduce a bill that would create a state committee to
regulate and inspect the laboratory. ...

Bacterium infected 3 at BU biolab

Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, January 19, 2005

Three Boston University researchers became ill last year after
being exposed in a laboratory to a potentially lethal bacterium called
tularemia, university and public health authorities said yesterday. It was the
first known instance of researchers in a Boston lab becoming infected with a
biological agent they were studying, according to a city public health official.
And it came at an awkward time for BU - when it was seeking local and federal
approval for a high-security lab to study the most feared infectious diseases in
the world. How the workers became infected remains unclear, although BU
officials said that researchers had violated procedures intended to protect them
from exposure. Two researchers became ill in May and a third in September,
apparently after separate exposures. But their illnesses were not linked to
tularemia until October. BU reported the cases to city, state, and federal
health authorities in November - about the time public hearings on the
high-security lab were being held. But neither the university nor the government
agencies disclosed the cases to the public at the time, saying there was no risk
to public health because tularemia is not transmitted from person to person.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who learned of the cases from BU and city public
health officials, also decided against telling city residents. ...

Answers about tularemia

Boston Globe, January 19, 2005

How did the researchers get it? It's not yet clear. The
scientists, however, thought they were working with a weakened strain of the
bacteria but it turned out to be contaminated with a highly infectious strain.
Also, lab workers did not follow proper procedures to protect themselves. Can I
get it? Tularemia is not known to be spread from person to person. Most people
get it from being bitten by an infected tick, deerfly, or other insect; handling
infected animal carcasses; eating or drinking contaminated food or water; or
breathing in the bacteria. ...

BU flunks the trust test

Steve Bailey, Boston Globe, January 19, 2005

They didn't think we would want to know? Of course they knew
better, and that is exactly why Boston University and the city, state, and
federal officials who want to build a $128 million ''biodefense lab" that would
bring the most deadly known pathogens and viruses to the South End kept their
mouths shut about a breach in another BU lab that infected three researchers,
putting two of them in the hospital, and spawning a series of investigations.
This was no secret, said Ellen Berlin, a spokeswoman for Boston University
Medical Center, who was left yesterday to defend the indefensible. People were
told. It may not have been a secret if you were on the inside of one of the
public health investigations - or inside the Menino administration, where the
mayor knew early on - but the problem at the BU lab will come as a surprise to
almost everyone else. ...

BU delayed reporting possibly lethal

Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, January 20, 2005

Boston University officials waited nearly two weeks to notify
public health authorities that they had serious concerns that researchers might
have been exposed to a potentially lethal bacterium while conducting
experiments, a delay that could have violated laws requiring prompt reporting of
suspected infectious disease cases. The university yesterday confirmed that on
Oct. 28, test results showed that researchers who had thought they were working
with a harmless variety of the bacteria tularemia instead had been working with
material that appeared to be contaminated and that might have caused illnesses
in three researchers. ...

Critics blast BU, city officials

Incident renews debate on biolab

Alice Dembner, Boston Globe, January 20, 2005

Boston University and city officials squandered public trust
and galvanized opposition to a planned high-security laboratory by waiting until
this week to tell city residents that three BU researchers were infected last
year with a potentially lethal bacterium in a less-secure lab, advocates and
elected officials said yesterday. "It is a public safety mistake not to tell
people what danger exists," said Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat
who has not opposed the proposed Biosafety Level 4 lab that will study deadly
infectious diseases. The vice chairman of the city's Zoning Commission, which
last week approved locating the high-security lab in the South End, suggested
that BU officials had hurt their public image by not telling the commission
about the exposure to tularemia last year. "It goes back to this issue of
trust," said Robert Fondren, a Cambridge architect who chaired the Zoning
Commission meeting last week. ...

How events unfolded after the exposures

Boston Globe, January 20, 2005

These are key events in the exposure of three Boston University
scientists to tularemia. May 22, 2004: First researcher becomes ill with fever,
cough, and headache. May 24: Second researcher becomes ill with similar symptoms
and is hospitalized overnight. Sept. 20: Third researcher becomes ill with
symptoms similar to the two earlier cases and is hospitalized several days. Oct.
28: Concerned about the workers' illnesses, BU scientists perform DNA analyses
of two samples of tularemia used by researchers. The samples are believed to
contain identical strains of a weakened, harmless form of the bacteria, but on
Oct. 28, results show the samples have different DNA profiles, suggesting that
one of them could be contaminated and represent a threat to researchers; the
university's occupational health division is notified. Nov. 4: BU notifies Dr.
Peter A. Rice to stop his tularemia vaccine research. ...

Three workers exposed to bacteria in BU lab

Boston Globe, January 20, 2005

Boston - Boston's director of communicable disease control said
Boston University should have notified her office as soon as someone suspected
that three researchers at the school who fell ill last year had been exposed to
the potentially lethal bacterium tularemia. Tularemia is a reportable disease in
Massachusetts, and state law requires cases or suspect cases of such diseases to
be reported to public health authorities "immediately, but in no case more than
24 hours" after being identified, Dr. Anita Barry said Wednesday night. ... The
acting provost of BU's medical campus, Dr. Thomas J. Moore, said Wednesday that
he could not explain the delay in reporting the exposures. ...

Lab insecurity

Boston Globe, January 20, 2005

To persuade Boston and its congested South End-Roxbury
neighborhood to accept a proposed Boston University bio-defense laboratory
working with highly lethal disease agents, BU and public officials have promised
state-of-the-art precautionary practices and maximum openness with the public.
In the case of the three lab workers infected last year with tularemia germs in
an existing, less secure BU lab in the South End, officials have failed on both
counts. In their defense, officials say the events at the lab never presented a
threat to public health. They are probably right, since tularemia is not
transmissible from person to person. Still, the incident has threatened public
confidence, especially since officials concealed news of it from the public for
months. The infections also point up the need for national standards and public
inspection procedures for research laboratories. ...

CLF cries wolf on research risk

Boston Herald, January 20, 2005

We knew the Conservation Law Foundation was full of
obstructionists, but who knew it was full of such sore losers, too? One of the
more pathetic e-mails to come our way in a while was the offer sent to several
media outlets yesterday to chat with CLF president Phil Warburg about the
Òdeveloping story of the infection of 3 researchers at a Boston University lab.Ó
And why would we want to do that, again? This non-story - which enjoyed
prominent, if bewildering, coverage in that other paper in town - goes something
like this. Three Boston University researchers at a Biosafety Level 2 lab were
infected with the lethal biological agent tularemia last May and September. The
infections were properly reported to public health authorities, Mayor Tom Menino
was given a heads up and the researchers recovered. Since there was no public
health threat, there was no public disclosure at the time. That all this
occurred while Menino, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Gov. Mitt Romney and many others were
pushing the approval of the siting of a Biosafety Level 4 lab in the South End
is irrelevant. The new federal research lab - which has since received local and
state approvals - will indeed house dangerous biological agents, like anthrax
and plague, but only under the strictest security conditions in the field.

Residents sue to thwart BU biohazard lab

Researchers infected in campus goof

Jessica Fargen, Boston Herald, January 20, 2005

South End residents fighting the construction of a Boston
University biohazard lab are suing the school, the state and the city, claiming
environmental laws were ignored and worst-case scenarios were not vetted out.
The lawsuit comes on the heels of news that three researchers in a BU campus lab
were infected with Òrabbit feverÓ last year after being exposed to the potential
bioterror agent. The city and the university never told the public. ÒWe never
trusted them, and now everyone sees what we've been talking about,Ó said Rose
Arruda, one of 10 people suing BU, Boston Medical Center, the Boston
Redevelopment Authority and four state offices. ÒThe suspicion that I've always
had is coming true now,Ó said Dolly Battle, another plaintiff. Researchers at
the proposed lab near the Southeast Expressway would work with agents such as
anthrax, ebola and botulism under a national defense initiative. ...

Amended Court Complaint

Alternatives for Community & Environment, January 27,


What did BU report and when did it report it?Ê We filed a
request forÊrecords with the Boston Public Health Commission, under the
Massachusetts Public Records Law,Êfor documents.Ê Here is what we requested the
Boston Public Health Commission to provide ...

Safety fears raised over biosecurity lapse

Jeff Hecht & Debora MacKenzie, New Scientist, January 20,

Three researchers at the Boston University Medical Center fell
ill in 2004 after being exposed to a potentially deadly bacterium in a Level 2
biosecurity lab. Yet city and university officials kept the news quiet until
after the centre's application to build a more high-level biosecurity lab (Level
4) in a densely populated part of Boston was accepted by the city this January.
University officials blamed careless procedures in their existing Level 2 lab,
and say the researchers were studying a strain of the bacterium which causes
tularaemia, also known as "rabbit fever", but had thought the strain was
harmless. A spokeswoman told New Scientist that the affected lab has been
decontaminated, but tularaemia research has been stopped until staff members are
retrained and a new manager appointed - the former head of the infectious
disease section was removed from his post. Yet the incident raises warning flags
about the proliferation of biodefence labs working with dangerous pathogens in
the US, in the wake of the still-unsolved anthrax attacks of 2001. According to
the Biosecurity Center of the University of Pittsburgh, US, federal funding for
civilian biodefence research rose from $414 million in 2001 to an estimated $5.5
billion in 2004. ...

Probe of BU lab illnesses looks to a lurking

Stephen Smith & Scott Allen, Boston Globe, January 21,

The investigation into how three Boston University researchers
became infected with tularemia when they thought they were working with a
harmless form of the germ is increasingly focusing on the possibility that a
naturally occurring lethal strain contaminated animal blood used to promote
growth of the bacteria. The BU scientists, who were trying to develop a
tularemia vaccine, were using a form of the bacteria that had been modified to
not cause illness. But after the workers became ill, two in May and one in
September, tests showed that the dangerous strain had contaminated BU's supply.
The workers, who recovered, apparently had inhaled that lethal strain. ...

Infections not listed in BU bid for biolab

Alice Dembner, Boston Globe, January 21, 2005

In making its case last year for government approval of a
high-security biodefense laboratory, Boston University Medical Center touted the
safety record of its existing laboratories, saying in written environmental
impact statements in July and August that no "laboratory-acquired infections" of
workers had occurred in the last decade. But BU failed to correct those
documents after it determined in November that three lab workers had been
infected with the tularemia bacterium, and state and city officials subsequently
signed off on the lab based on the outdated reports. Under state environmental
regulations, BU was obligated to correct any errors in the 7-inch-thick report,
according to Joseph O'Keefe, spokesman for the state Executive Office of
Environmental Affairs. Yesterday, state environmental officials asked BU to
provide details of the infections as the first step in deciding whether to
reopen the state environmental review. Federal officials are conducting a
separate environmental review, based on documents filed in October that include
the same safety assertions BU made to the state. That federal review, conducted
by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is the final
hurdle for the project. "The purpose of these documents is to provide open and
informed decision-making," said Carrie Schneider, a staff lawyer at the
Conservation Law Foundation, which has opposed the lab. "If it is based on
incorrect information, the whole process becomes meaningless." ...

New protocols needed in biolabs

Thomas J. Richard, Concord, NH, Boston Globe, January 21,

The accident at Boston University resulting in transmission of
tularemia to laboratory workers ("Bacterium infected 3 at BU biolab," Page A1,
Jan. 19) is another example of the hazard of working with microorganisms that
are not in a biological safety cabinet. It is common practice to examine
clinical laboratory specimens and even manipulate organisms at the microbiology
bench. In Westchester County in New York, three laboratory workers became
infected with brucellosis on different occasions because they had not examined
and manipulated the organisms in a biological safety cabinet. Manipulating,
testing, and examining organisms creates the potential of generating aerosols.
Laboratory workers who wear personal protective equipment are not necessarily
protected from this hazard. ...

Lawmakers, city councilors try to thwart lab with

Jessica Fargen, Boston Herald, January 21, 2005

Legislators and city councilors yesterday continued to battle
against the construction of a high-level bio-hazard lab in the South End by
backing a plan to inject more regulation into the proposed lab. They also
pounded Boston University and state and city officials for failing to promptly
reveal that three researchers at a BU campus lab were infected with dangerous
bacteria last year, but the public was never told. ÒThey all hide the truth,Ó
said Rose Arruda, one of 10 residents suing Boston University, the Boston
Redevelopment Authority, Boston Medical Center and four state offices in an
effort to block the lab. The bill, supported by more than a dozen legislators
and three city councilors, would place a moratorium on construction of any
ÒBioSafety Level 4Ó labs until such time as security, transportation of
materials and other regulations are in place. It also calls for lab inspections
and an oversight board. Researchers at the federal lab would work with the
world's most dangerous bio-hazard agents such as anthrax, smallpox and Ebola.
The federal government, not the state Department of Public Health would have
oversight over a Level 4 lab, said a DPH spokeswoman. The Boston Public Health
Commission, which could also have jurisdiction, was unavailable for comment.
Mayor Thomas Menino said people who are up in arms about the lab Òdon't know the
facts.Ó ...

Illnesses bad for business

The Daily Free Press, January 21, 2005

The failure by Boston University administrators to respond
promptly to the infection of three researchers by a deadly bacterium has blown a
Roxbury-sized hole in its credibility as it moves to construct a Level 4
Biosafety Laboratory for extremely deadly diseases. In April of last year, The
Daily Free Press urged the university to carefully consider criticism from South
End residents and earnestly address and ease these concerns, insisting that "BU
must keep safety as its number one priority and remain honest with the community
if problems do arise." The university did not heed these cautious words and is
now awash in a seemingly irreparable public relations quagmire. BU needed to win
the trust and confidence of Boston community before erecting this lab, and it
has now utterly failed to do so. With yesterday's reports that certain BU
administrators failed to report a contamination of deadly bacterium for almost
two weeks after it was confirmed by tests and almost two months after the third
researcher fell ill, the university has demonstrated a near complete disregard
for safety concerns raised by the Boston community over the last year. ...

BU confirms scientists' illness

Hellman, Greg, The Daily Free Press, January 21, 2005

Boston University officials have not fully disclosed the
dangers of the proposed biological weapons research lab, said several Boston
City councilors and members of Safety Net, a Roxbury tenants' right group at a
City Hall press conference Thursday. Councilors At-large Felix Arroyo and Maura
Hennigan and Councilor Chuck Turner (Roxbury), as well as Safety Net spokeswoman
Rose Arruda, called for greater accountability and a halt to the lab's
activities after three BU scientists became infected with a potentially deadly
bacterium from the lab. The city officials' comments came in the wake of the
announcement that four Chinese scientists and two Iraqi nationals may be
plotting a "dirty bomb" attack on Boston. "If Boston is attractive to terrorists
now, can you imagine what would happen" with the installation of a bioterror
lab, Arroyo asked. Turner recited from a list of 80 health and safety
regulations the lab violated, including the dumping of silver and the use of
mercury thermometers, among others. "BU cannot be trusted in terms of their
actions around this issue of the bioterror lab," Turner said. "The fact that
they wouldn't disclose during the process shows the lack of integrity that the
institution has. We have to come together as the people of the city to protect
ourselves against BU." ...

3 researchers infected with 'rabbit fever'

McLaughlin, Ryan, The Daily Free Press, January 21, 2005

The strain of the bacterium that infected the Boston University
researchers last year unknowingly contained a more dangerous type of the
bacteria, according to Medical Campus Acting Provost Thomas Moore. The
infections came from samples of tularemia sent from a center in Nebraska. While
the researchers infected requested type B, a less hazardous strain than type A,
they received both strains in the same sample. "One of the vials is the vaccine
we expected it to be, but the second is the vaccine and the second more
dangerous type of bacteria," Moore said. "[The researchers] believed they were
working only with the strain that did not cause illness." Although the infection
was due to the contamination on part the Nebraska center, Peter Rice, the chief
of the infectious diseases and senior scientist involved in the research, has
been asked for his resignation and demotion. ...

BU Researchers on Project Tied to Lab Lapse, Also Linked to

Demoted Researcher Who Led Project May Still Work in

Daniel Schulman & Adam Smith, Sampan, January 21, 2005

At least two researchers connected to a federally funded
tularemia project that led to the infection of three Boston University
scientists last year were expected to conduct work in the university's proposed
biodefense lab, which will handle some of the world's deadliest pathogens. Dr.
Peter A. Rice, chief of infectious diseases in the university's department of
medicine, led the ill-fated vaccine development project, and another researcher,
Dr. Lee M. Wetzler, an associate professor of medicine and microbiology at the
school, also acknowledged on Wednesday that he had been involved in the project
as well. According to the university's grant application for the federally
sponsored project, Wetzler is in line to work in BU's proposed National
Biocontaiment Laboratory, or NBL, which will study pathogens such as anthrax and
Ebola that could be used as agents of bioterror. Rice had also been expected to
work in the proposed lab, BU spokeswoman Ellen Berlin confirmed Friday. ...

Local biolabs pose no risks to public health

Jon Brodkin, Middlesex Daily News, January 21, 2005

The incidents in a Boston University research biolab, involving
employees exposed to a potentially lethal bacterium, are unlikely to happen in
local research laboratories, which typically work with substances that pose no
public threat, officials said. "We do no work with any infectious agents," said
Dan Quinn, a spokesman for biotechnology company Genzyme Corp., which has
research space at its Framingham facility and conducts research on rare genetic
diseases, immune system diseases, cancer and other diseases. Framingham public
health officials monitor Genzyme regularly by maintaining a biosafety committee
that meets every three months with the company to visit the facility and review
its projects, said Bob Cooper, director of public health. The committee was
formed in 1982 under local and federal regulations on recombinant DNA
technology, he said. The BU incident will probably be discussed at the next
committee meeting with Genzyme, but Cooper said he's never been aware of a
similar event happening at the company. ...

U. of Nebraska asks BU for bacteria samples

Scott Allen, Boston Globe, January 22, 2005

University of Nebraska officials are asking Boston University
to provide them with bacteria samples taken from three lab workers who
contracted tularemia last year in hopes of proving that the disease outbreak
began in Boston rather than in a research shipment sent from Nebraska. Dr.
Steven Hinrichs, director of the Center for Biosecurity at the University of
Nebraska in Omaha, asserts that BU has unfairly suggested that Nebraska
researchers sent contaminated vials to Boston for use in developing a vaccine
against tularemia, a highly contagious and sometimes fatal condition. Hinrichs
said a more likely source of the disease cluster is leftover bacteria from a
patient who died of the disease at Boston Medical Center in 2000. Boston
University officials "have not approached this in the usual collegial and
academic way I would have expected," said Hinrichs, who said he learned of BU's
suspicions about the source of the outbreak from the media. "The way they
circled the wagons and started shooting at everything ... at a minimum, we're
disappointed." ...

Scientists' exposure casts doubt on lab plan

BU's neighbors fear contamination

Jonathan Finer, The Washington Post, January 23, 2005

Boston - The revelation last week that a laboratory slip-up led
three Boston University scientists to become infected with tularemia, a flulike
disease sometimes referred to as "rabbit fever," has fueled criticism of a plan
to build a state-of-the-art research lab to study some of the world's most
lethal germs in Boston's South End. The project, which is expected to bring more
than $1.6 billion in grants and other funding to the city, has generated intense
community opposition in the two years since Boston Medical Center began trying
to persuade the federal government to site the project here. Slated for
groundbreaking later this year, it would be one of just a handful of full-scale
Bio-safety Level 4 (BSL-4) laboratories in the country - a classification that
would permit research on diseases such as anthrax, Ebola and the plague. The lab
would be located in a more densely populated neighborhood than the others,
including those in San Antonio, Atlanta and Frederick, Md. ...

BU BSL-4 lab faces more scrutiny

Infections of three lab workers with

tularemia at BSL-2 lab puts plan in spotlight

Clare Kittredge, The Scientist, JanuaryÊ24, 2005

The city of Boston plans to toughen up laboratory safety
protocols after revelations that three Boston University (BU) researchers were
accidentally infected with a lethal strain of tularemia they thought was
harmless. The illnesses last year were made public January 18 by university and
public health authorities, a day before a "dirty bomb" scare rocked the city.
That was some 2 months after BU reported the cases to public health officials.
Word of the contaminations - two last May and one in September - and the delay
in making them public intensified controversy over plans to build a $178 million
Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) research lab at BU in a crowded urban neighborhood.
Some critics accused authorities of delaying the revelations until after public
hearings on the BSL-4 lab, which earlier this month won approval from the city's
zoning commission. ...

Bio lab should be in remote area

Stephen Buckler, Boston, Boston Globe, January 24, 2005

I am still an agnostic about whether placing a biosafety level
4 lab in a congested area such as the South End-Roxbury neighborhood makes
sense. What concerns me is less the project itself but the process or lack
thereof. In the spring of 2004 I queried Boston University about a statistic
listed on its Website that indicated that 52 percent of the South End was behind
the bio lab. Living in the South End I knew that at the time most people were
unaware of the potential for such a lab to be placed within their backyard. I
asked in the question and answer section on the BU Website if they could share
how they arrived at such a number. After querying them, I received no response.
Second, they draw comparisons with Boston and established Bio Lab 4 labs,
claiming that they are in similar urban locations. As this information is
publicly available it is clearly not an apples to apples comparison, but open
for manipulation. ...

Boston biosecurity lapse was not the first

Jeff Hecht, New Scientist, January 24, 2005

New questions have arisen regarding the handling of deadly
microbes at the Boston University Medical Center where, in 2004, three
laboratory workers contracted a virulent strain of the tularaemia bacterium. The
security lapses were not made public until after the centre won approval to
build a new, maximum containment biodefence laboratory, prompting heavy
criticism. But now New Scientist has learned that this is not the first time
workers at the Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory were
accidentally exposed to tularaemia. In 2000, a dozen people were exposed to
samples from a patient who caught the disease from a wild rabbit and died
(Journal of Clinical Microbiology, vol 40, p 2278.) They had handled the samples
with no special precautions, even though doctors who treated the patient
suspected he had died of tularaemia. All but one, who was pregnant, were treated
with antibiotics and none came down with the disease, but the lab retained some
samples. Tularaemia is a potential biowarfare agent because inhaling less than
10 airborne bacteria can cause the disease - which kills about 1% of patients.
People cannot transmit it to each other, but it is one of the three easiest
infections to catch in the lab and has infected hundreds of workers in the past.

Exposure at Germ Lab Reignites a Public Health

Scott Shane, The New York Times, January 24, 2005

Last year, while working on a vaccine to protect against
bioterrorist attacks, three laboratory workers at Boston University were exposed
to the bacteria that cause a rare disease called tularemia, or rabbit fever. The
workers recovered, though two of them had to be hospitalized. But the prognosis
is less certain for the university's ambitious plan to build a high-security
biodefense laboratory, part of a national boom in germ defense research touched
off by the Sept. 11 attacks and the anthrax letters of 2001. The tularemia
episode, acknowledged by university officials only after inquiries last week
from the news media, has outraged opponents of the proposed $178 million
laboratory and reignited a national debate over whether the rapid expansion in
work with dangerous pathogens is adequately regulated and scientifically
justified. The Boston case follows other mishaps in germ research, including the
accidental shipment of virulent live anthrax from Maryland to California last
March, and an investigation that revealed multiple spills of anthrax bacteria in
the Army's biodefense laboratory. Such incidents have led some scientists to ask
whether the growing number of germ laboratories - financed from the $14.5
billion in federal money spent on civilian biodefense since 2001 - may pose a
menace to public health comparable to the still uncertain threat from
bioterrorism. Dr. David Ozonoff, a professor of environmental health at the
Boston University School of Public Health who originally supported the new
laboratory but now opposes it, argues that biodefense spending has shifted money
away from "bread-and-butter public health concerns." Given the diversion of
resources and the potential for germs to leak or be diverted, he said, "I
believe the lab will make us less safe." ...

Vet School seeks grant to build biocontainment

Keith Barry, Tufts Daily, January 25, 2005

In accordance with its plans to construct a Regional
Biocontainment Laboratory (RBL) on its Grafton campus, Tufts University School
of Veterinary Medicine (TUSVM) has applied for a $20 million grant from the
National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) of the United
States Public Health Service. NIAID requested applications for the building of
five to eight RBLs for the purpose of examining possible agents of bioterror.
The 30,000 sq. ft. lab would be classified as Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3), which
the National Institutes of Health (NIH) classifies as "low community risk."
There is no need for concern on the part of Grafton residents, according to
Associate Dean of Administration and Finance for the Veterinary School Joseph
McManus. At a Grafton Selectman's meeting, he announced that the risk to
residents would be "negligible." "There are multiple layers of identity and
access control for the building," McManus wrote in a flyer distributed to
attendees of a Jan. 12 campus forum. "This RBL will be a purpose-built,
standalone building designed specifically for worker and community safety.
Access to the building will be strictly controlled," he wrote. BSL-3 labs are
already located on the Tufts campus at the Medical School and at the Veterinary
School in Building 20. A controversial bioterror lab to be built at Boston
University will be classified as BSL-4. Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4) labs are
defined as having the greatest community risk. ...

Nurses' union opposes BU biodefense lab

Boston Globe, January 25, 2005

The Massachusetts Nurses Association, the statewide nurses
union, has decided to oppose the siting of a high-security biodefense laboratory
in the South End, the union's spokesman said yesterday. The organization's board
voted Thursday to oppose the lab at Boston University Medical Center, prompted
by BU's handling of the infections last year of three employees who fell ill
with potentially deadly tularemia after being exposed to the bacteria in
another, lower-security lab. ''BU has already shown itself to be irresponsible"
in failing to promptly notify the public about the exposures, said David
Schildmeier. He said the group opposes location of the lab in any urban, densely
populated setting and advocates stronger oversight of laboratories and prompt
public reporting of any problems.

OSHA investigating infection at BU lab

Alice Dembner, Boston Globe, January 26, 2005

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has launched
an investigation into the infection last year of three lab workers who were
handling the tularemia bacterium at Boston University Medical Center, an OSHA
spokesman said yesterday. OSHA officials began the investigation Friday with an
inspection of the lab in the Evans Biomedical Research Center on Albany Street,
where the exposure occurred, said John Chavez, spokesman for the OSHA regional
office in Boston. The inspectors will determine whether BU violated any of the
federal agency's rules on the health and safety of workers. Chavez said the
investigation could take up to six months. ... Also yesterday, a BU spokeswoman
responded to a decision by the Massachusetts Nurses Association to oppose siting
of a high-security bioterrorism defense laboratory run by BU in the South End.
The nurses association cited concerns about BU's delay in reporting the
tularemia exposure at one of its lower security labs and worries about whether a
lab handling even more lethal substances would be the target of terrorists. The
lab "will be designed to operate safely and in design will exceed existing
safety standards," Berlin said. "This lab will be important to the nation's
public health by finding cures for infectious diseases and saving lives."

Council: BU biolab threat to city

Priyanka Dayal, The Daily Free Press, January 27, 2005

City Councilors lambasted Boston University yesterday for its
"irresponsible behavior" regarding its Biosafety Level 4 laboratory, citing that
since 2000, the university has violated 80 state health regulations. After
recently publicized accident, where three researchers contracted tularemia from
a strain of experimental bacteria last year, the university has come under fire
from both area residents and politicians. "I have nothing against Boston
University," Councilor Charles Yancey (Dorchester, Mattapan) said at the
Council's weekly meeting. "But I do have concerns about what they're trying to
do by establishing a Level 4 bio lab in the center of the city." Yancey said
Boston is the wrong location for a high-security biosafety lab because residents
would be at risk if scientists were to make mistakes with infectious, incurable
diseases. Councilor Chuck Turner (Roxbury, Dorchester) said BU's lab is not just
a place to study harmful diseases, but also a research center for biological
weapons. "The purpose of this laboratory is to focus on developing antidotes to
bio weapons," Turner said. "This is a bio-terrorism laboratory. That's what the
[federal] government is spending money on." Turner added that since 2000, BU had
broken 80 health standards set by the Massachusetts Water Resource
Administration. "Why would we expect them to do any better with a Level 4 bio
laboratory?" he said. ...

City Council split over proposed BU bioterror

Members try to stop facility

Madison Park, Boston Globe, January 27, 2005

City Council members clashed yesterday over Boston University's
controversial plans for a high-security bioterrorism laboratory in the South
End. Fueled by the recently disclosed infections of BU researchers, councilors
Maura Hennigan, Felix Arroyo, Chuck Turner, and Charles Yancey sponsored a
measure to block the research facility, which is supported by Mayor Thomas M.
Menino and has been approved by the city's Zoning Board of Appeal. ''This biolab
Level 4 should be banned from the city of Boston," Arroyo said, referring to its
high-security designation. The facility would be ''a menace to our safety and
our health. The people that are supposed to be in charge seem to have too many
previous cases of mistakes." Officials recently acknowledged that three BU
researchers who handled the tularemia bacterium became infected last year. The
information did not become public until this month, triggering criticism from
lab opponents. ''From my perspective, if BU is having difficulties with its
Level 2 facilities, how can we deal with a Level 4, which is the most
threatening to public safety?" Hennigan said. ...

Menino and BU's biolab

Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe, January 27, 2005

The New Boston surely doesn't care more about architectural
design than anthrax. So, why does it look easier to stop a hotel with historic
preservation issues than to stop a biodefense lab over public safety issues? For
example: A $100 million hotel in the old Charles Street Jail at the foot of
Beacon Hill has been on the drawing board since September 2002. The project
''has had the gestation period of an elephant," developer Richard L. Friedman
recently told the Globe, partly due to historic preservation requirements, which
include keeping bars on some windows and an actual jail cell. Other development
projects are stopped in Boston simply because neighbors don't like the shadows
they might cast. On the other hand, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is determined to
fast-forward a proposal to allow Boston University to build a high security lab
- called a Biosafety Level 4 lab - that would bring millions of federal dollars
and hundreds of jobs, along with deadly pathogens and viruses, to the South End.
He is so determined to see the project through that he was willing to keep quiet
about a breach in a lower security level 2 lab that resulted in three
researchers being infected with a bacterium called tularemia. ...

Affair to remember

Sam Allis, Boston Globe, January 30, 2005

It's Saturday morning before the Big White last weekend, and
Mike Capuano, the guy from distant Somerville who represents the Eighth
Congressional District, is holding a constituent powwow at Dorchester House, the
neighborhood multiservice center on Dot Avenue down by Fields Corner. I don't
know Capuano from Adam. He materialized on my ballot in Jamaica Plain in
November, replacing Steve Lynch out of Southie in the Ninth. (Congressmen come
and go with redistricting like Canada geese.) So I figure I might as well find
out whether he gives a good spiel as remain under my bed in the womb position
with blizzard fright. ... The Boston University bioterrorism lab slated for the
South End is a hot topic. Becky Pierce from Codman Square prods Capuano to drop
his support for the project in light of recent news that BU failed to disclose
the infections of three researchers from a disease at another facility.
Capuano's staying with it, as is Menino, for its economic impact. He is,
remember, a former mayor of Somerville and prizes urban jobs like Krispy Kremes.
(Menino, who arrives early for his meeting, listens intently from the door.)

Making BU's biolab safe

Jeanne Guillemin, Boston Globe, January 31, 2005

In 1942, when the United States started its biological warfare
program, two Columbia University microbiologists, Theodor Rosebury and Elvin
Kabat, made a detailed estimate of the diseases whose agents were best suited
for weapons development. At the top of their list was anthrax, with its hardy
spores and 80 percent mortality rate for untreated inhalational cases. Ranked
almost as high was tularemia, with a mortality rate of 30 percent. Rosebury and
Kabat cited 56 laboratory accidents to suggest that the bacteria for this
disease could easily become airborne without losing virulence. Later military
experiments proved them right. After World War II, as the secret US program
burgeoned, the discovery that antibiotics could cure tularemia opened the door
to human research on the bacterium and, from there, to a standardization of the
amount needed for bombs and spray generators. In 1969, President Nixon
terminated the US program before its advanced weapons could be used. In all
those 28 years, no enemy posed a serious biological weapons threat. Instead, the
US program, lacking oversight from either Congress or the executive branch,
aggressively targeted enemy civilians in the USSR, China, Southeast Asia, and
elsewhere. ... Throughout this 20th century history of biological weapons, no
major power worried much about defending their own citizens against intentional
epidemics. Times have changed. In the aftermath of 9/11 and the 2001 anthrax
letters, Washington moved quickly both to regulate dangerous pathogens and to
encourage research to protect Americans against dozens of select biological
agents. Inexperience is the operative word for this project, in all sectors
involved. The Department of Defense, the main proponent for biodefense projects,
is geared to secrecy in the pursuit of military advantage in war and poorly
equipped to understand medical science. Its weapons-oriented mind-set has deeply
influenced all biodefense initiatives, within and outside the new Department of
Homeland Security. The lack of federal government oversight and increasing
secrecy in the Department of Health and Human Services and other agencies bode
ill for accountability to the public. ...

BU lab workers not
the only victims

Laura Yanne, Scituate, Boston Globe, February 1, 2005

The three laboratory workers stricken ill by the tularemia
bacterium ("OSHA investigating infection at BU lab," Jan. 26) were unwitting
victims of an experiment gone awry, and the long delay in reporting the exposure
complicates an already morally dubious situation. Tularemia (or "rabbit fever"),
in aerosol form, is considered a possible bioterrorist agent. In warfare,
persons who inhale it likely experience severe respiratory illness. In
laboratories, animals without rights who are forced to inhale it suffer in the
same way, but they're not treated and released; they're killed. The nurses
association has expressed concern, and residents of the South End may well be
wary of the proposed siting in their neighborhood of the new Level 4 bio lab
that would deal with much more dangerous pathogens than BU's present Level 2
facility. Accidents and cover-ups have surfaced, even as the tyranny over
animals continues. Another BU bio lab would be another big dirty bomb.

Projects like lab not always bad

Scott Copley, Cambridge, Boston Globe, February 2, 2005

It's sad to see Joan Vennochi hew the same old tired
anti-development line the Globe has promoted for years (''Menino and BU's
biolab," op ed Jan. 27). What Vennochi fails to note is how the recent problem
at a separate BU lab posed no risk to the general public and that the lab the
school seeks to build is similar to one in Atlanta, which operates in an urban
center with nary a calamity despite all of the fearmongering of the opposition.
In the interests of fairness, might the Globe hire at least one pro-development
voice to speak for those who appreciate the benefits of worthwhile projects such
as this one? The real effect of rampant NIMBY-ism is not of ordinary people
fighting powerful interests; it is a loss of jobs and tax revenue that leads to
a stagnant, anti-growth city.

NIH to Prepare Supplemental Draft Environmental

Impact Statement for BUMC Biosafety Lab

Boston University, February 3, 2005

Boston - To respond to comments on the draft environmental
impact statement, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has recently decided
to prepare and issue a Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS)
as part of the National Environmental Policy Act approval process for the Boston
University Medical Center Biosafety Lab. The initial draft environmental impact
statement was released for public comment in October 2004. For the next few
weeks, NIH will prepare the new SDEIS for public release. The SDEIS is going to
focus on and examine comments provided to the NIH during the public comment
period, which ended Jan. 3. There will be an additional comment period and a
community meeting to collect comments from the public once the SDEIS is
released. These comments will be responded to in the final environmental impact
statement. ...

NIH plans to issue revised statement on biolab

Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, February 4, 2005

The National Institutes of Health expects within a month to
issue a revised environmental impact statement on a proposed high-security
laboratory at Boston University where scientists would study the world's
deadliest germs and viruses, a federal official said yesterday. The announcement
that NIH will issue a new draft environmental statement, as well as conduct
another public hearing, was made two weeks after BU and public health officials
disclosed that three researchers had fallen ill with tularemia last year after
working with the bacterium that causes the disease in a lower-security lab.
"That's a coincidence," said Valerie Nottingham, chief of the environmental
quality branch at NIH. Nottingham said discussions within the agency about
revising the environmental assessment began three or four weeks ago after
authorities reviewed letters and questions from the public regarding the
proposed Biosafety Level-4 lab, scheduled to rise on Albany Street in Boston's
South End. ...

BU scientists missed bacteria-illness link

Chief of research on tularemia quits

Alice Dembner & Stephen Smith, Boston Globe, February 5,

Boston University scientists ran tests in August that showed
two laboratory workers had been exposed to tularemia, but they did not connect
the results to their illnesses three months earlier because they were convinced
that they were working with a weakened strain of the bacteria that could not
cause disease, BU officials said yesterday. A top university administrator and
the state's leading infectious disease official said that the test results
should have spurred the researchers to investigate more thoroughly. But it was
not until two months later, weeks after a third worker fell ill, that the
researchers determined that the bacteria they were working with were probably
contaminated with the active, disease-causing form. Also yesterday, BU said Dr.
Peter Rice, who headed the campus's tularemia research, had resigned all his
positions at the university and at Boston Medical Center. BU had placed him on
leave and removed him as head of infectious diseases at BMC, saying he had
allowed safety lapses in his lab. Rice has worked at BU for about 30 years.

Klempner BU's biosafety lab plan draws

Theo Emery, Associated Press, February 6, 2005

Boston - A barren strip of asphalt, sandwiched between busy
highway ramps on one side and the city's wholesale flower market on another, has
become an urban battleground over the nation's defense against disease and
bioterrorism. Boston University plans to replace the parking lot, which abuts a
bustling residential neighborhood, with a laboratory where scientists will
handle some of the most dangerous disease strains. Sure, those materials will be
handled under tight security, funded with post-9/11 federal funds. But the plans
for what's known as a Biosafety Level 4 lab have stirred strident neighborhood
opposition - particularly after recent reports that three BU employees at a
lower-security lab came down with a disease called tularemia last year and the
university delayed reporting the infections. "The idea of putting this bioterror
lab in a highly populated neighborhood is absolutely insane. It's ludicrous,"
said Rose Arruda, 39, a community organizer affiliated with the anti-lab group
Safety Net. "We absolutely do not want this in our neighborhood." There are now
four BSL-4 labs around the country, another six - including the Boston
University project - are under way, and another handful are proposed. ...

What's the Matter with the Biolab?

Deborah Asbrand,, February 8, 2005

Boston University Medical Center was on a roll. Armed with a
fat, $120-million federal grant to build a seven-story germ laboratory on its
urban campus, the school had overcome community opposition and was one approval
away from starting construction on the high-security lab. That meant access to
plentiful grant monies in the emerging field of biodefense. Then came the
accident. Pressed by media reports, university officials admitted in early
January that they had failed to report the 2004 accident that caused three lab
workers to be sickened by tularemia, the virus better known as rabbit fever,
which produces flu-like symptoms and is treatable with antibiotics. The gaffe
posed no imminent public danger since the virus isn't spread from person to
person, and people who have tularemia do not need to be isolated, according to
the web site for the Center for Disease Control. However, the public perception
that the university misled the community about the dangers of lab practices
could fuel a wider distrust of scientists and jeopardize public support for
research in areas such as stem cells or nanotechnology, says Mark Frankel,
director of the scientific freedom, responsibility and law program for the
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "The bottom line is that
scientists need to develop relationships of trust with the communities in which
they work, and the events in Boston are counterproductive to doing that," says
Frankel. Perhaps more disconcerting for science policymakers is that the
disclosure led to a new round of questions over whether the United States is
creating an overabundance of research centers for studying potentially lethal
viruses. ...


Mike Prokosch, submitted to Dorchester Reporter, February

They told you so. For two years, Roxbury activists have been
saying that the middle of Boston isn't the place to build a lab that will be
experimenting with the deadliest diseases on the planet. They've also been
saying that BU, the lab's manager, can't be trusted to police itself. Guess
what? They're right about the trust. Last week we learned that three BU lab
workers were exposed to tularemia, a potentially lethal bacterium. Cases like
that are supposed to be reported immediately to public health authorities. BU
waited two weeks - while, by sheer coincidence, public hearings were giving them
the final go-ahead to build their new Level 4 "Biosafety" Lab. In those hearings
BU claimed a perfect safety record. Let's be charitable. BU may not have broken
any laws. But they broke the trust of the Massachusetts political establishment,
which has been bending over backward to help BU build the lab. BU convinced our
elected officials that this cutting-edge lab would bring more biotech jobs to
Boston. So from Teddy Kennedy through Mike Capuano and Diane Wilkerson to Ego
Ezedi, they greased the process to bring BU's Level 4 lab to Boston. Problem is,
BU thinks there's one set of rules for BU and another for everyone else. The
special treatment they got from Tom Menino & co. confirmed them in their
arrogance. Dorchester's city councilors, at least, split down the middle. Chuck
Turner and Charles Yancey fought the lab every step. Jim Kelly supports it -
building trades unions want it, black people oppose it, 'nuff said. Maureen
Feeney recused herself from the affair because she's on the board of Boston
Medical Center where the lab is to be built. A lawyer told her that could create
a conflict of interest. Now the conflict is on the other foot. Councilor Feeney
may want either to tell her constituents how she has used her position on the
board to make them safe, or resign from the board so she can do so. ...

High Security Lab Plans Draw Community Protests in

Bruce Gellerman & Jeff Young, Living on Earth, February 11,

Coming up ... Is it safe? Some Boston residents question
whether a new, high tech biodefense lab in their neighborhood will make them
more or less secure. ... This is a story about a minority community, national
security, high tech laboratories and what scientists call "select agents." Now,
don't let the innocent sounding name fool you. Select agents are the most
dangerous organisms on earth - among them Ebola, anthrax, Lassa fever and
plague. In the wrong hands, these pathogens could wreak unspeakable havoc. Since
9-11, the Bush administration has increased funding for biodefense research more
than 18 fold from 400 million dollars to more than seven and a half billion
dollars a year. ...

Has the worm turned in biolab debate?

Christine MacDonald, Boston Globe, February 13, 2005

The morning commute can be bad enough, but Rose Arruda says she
had particular reason to be demoralized: those ads on the T touting the safety
of Boston University Medical Center's planned biolab in the South End. "It was
hard seeing those BU ads when we don't have a big advertising budget," said
Arruda, a longtime Roxbury activist who lives a 10-minute walk from the proposed
lab, where scientists hope to study anthrax, ebola, and other lethal biological
agents. Arruda's "we" would be Safety Net, a Roxbury neighborhood group that has
vocally opposed those plans. BU officials have pledged that the lab will follow
stringent measures to assure neighborhood residents' safety and that the public
will be informed pronto if an outbreak were ever to occur. With backing from
Governor Mitt Romney, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, and a majority of the City
Council, BU officials were poised to complete the planning process and break
ground on the $128 million facility. But opponents of the high-security lab say
the debate is turning in their favor since news broke last month that three BU
researchers were accidentally infected with tularemia while working with the
infectious bacterium in a lower-security lab on the same campus last year.
Before news of the accidental infections became public, said Arruda: "People
just ignored us. They'd say, 'You are just a bunch of crazy activists.' Now
people are asking questions. "All of a sudden, people were taking us seriously,"
said Arruda, who said her phone began ringing incessantly after word of the
tularemia accidents first broke in mid-January, three months after the
infections were confirmed. ...