Accidents at Disease Lab Revealed
The only U.S. facility allowed to research the highly contagious foot-and-mouth disease experienced several accidents with the feared virus, the Bush administration acknowledged Friday.
A 1978 release of the virus into cattle holding pens on Plum Island, N.Y., triggered new safety procedures. While that incident was previously known, the Homeland Security Department told a House committee there were other accidents inside the government's laboratory.
The accidents are significant because the administration is likely to move foot-and-mouth research from the remote island to one of five sites on the U.S. mainland near livestock herds. This has raised concerns about the risks of a catastrophic outbreak of the disease, which does not sicken humans but can devastate the livestock industry.
Yea, I'm sure the better procedures will stop an accidental release from the facility when it's relocated to Kansas. Isn't the better question, would an accidental release of foot and mouth disease affect nearby animals?
One government report, produced last year and already provided to lawmakers by the Homeland Security Department, combined commercial satellite images and federal farm data to show the proximity to livestock herds of locations that have been considered for the new lab.
"Would an accidental laboratory release at these locations have the potential to affect nearby livestock?" asked the nine-page document. It did not directly answer the question.
So, they are not willing to answer that. It must mean that there might be a problem. What do people that have worked there think?
Some experts, including the former director at the aging Plum Island lab, say research ought to be kept away from cattle populations — and, ideally placed where the public already has accepted dangerous research.
The former director, Dr. Roger Breeze, suggested the facility could be safely located at the Atlanta campus of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or at Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., home of The United States Army Medical Research Institute for infectious diseases.
Another possibility, Breeze said, is on Long Island, where there is no commercial livestock industry. That would allow retention of most of the current Plum Island employees.
So what would be the problem with upgrading the Plum Island research facility and keeping this off the mainland.
A new facility at Plum Island is technically a possibility. Signs point to a mainland site, however, after the administration spent considerable time and money scouting new locations. Also, there are financial concerns about operating from a location accessible only by ferry or helicopter.
So a new facility at Plum Island is possible. Just embarrassing to the administration after they spent all the money scouting out new locations. So, it would be too hard to swallow their pride and do the right thing here? Then they mention financial concerns. What about the financial concerns of diseases escaping in say Kansas, and infecting the heart of cattle country. Wouldn't the financial concerns there out weigh any about transport to an Island facility? It sure seems like tit would to me.
I guess it's time to make some noise and contact my Congress Critters. I'm doomed to lose if I do that. Any time I contact my Congress Critters on a subject you can almost bet the thing is going to go against what I think would be the smart thing to do. That's a Representative Republic for you.