[IMC-Boston-Dispatch] Sept 20: BU Bio-lab Court hearing
sofiajt at yahoo.com
Mon Sep 10 22:06:08 PDT 2007
Abby Yanow <abbyyanow at hotmail.com> wrote: To: smujp at yahoogroups.com
From: "Abby Yanow" <abbyyanow at hotmail.com>
Date: Sun, 09 Sep 2007 22:15:31 +0000
Subject: [SMUJP] Help us oppose the BU Bio-lab - Sept. 20 7pm
The UJP community groups working on preventing the level 4 bio-lab in Boston are coming together on Sept. 20 to demonstrate our widespread opposition to the bio-lab. As you know, SMUJP organized a hearing with the aldermen a few months ago, and the aldermen supported a ban on building the bio-lab (at least to prevent level 4 pathogens at the lab). We need to demonstrate our opposition to the bio-lab by packing Faneuil Hall on Sept. 20th at 7 PM, to convince the federal judge to take our claims seriously.
From Vicky Steinitz, Cambridge UJP:
The public hearing is an opportunity for us to critique NIH's supplementary environmental impact review which claims that not only is the lab safe but it may even be safer in an urban area than a rural one. You may wonder how on earth they came to that conclusion. Simple -- no one of the 4 pathogens they studied is spread thru person to person contact, but one of them, Q fever is passed thru insects biting cattle, and we all know there are no cattle in Roxbury! (Unbelievably, they tested pathogens that are passed by insects, rather than testing those that are passed by people.)
We will be sending out talking points soon so you will have some material on which to base your testimony if you wish to speak at the hearing. We're hoping to have enough people sign up to speak that they have to schedule a second meeting but you don't have to speak. Your presence will speak for itself.
I am posting below a recent article from Dallas on irregularities in the Texas A & M lab. We can't let this kind of dangerous lab come to Boston.
A must read - An extraordinary record of failure.
http://www.dallasne ws.com /sharedcontent/ dws/news /healthscience/ stories/090507d ntexcdc.9f66c8cc. html
CDC reprimands Texas A&M over lab safety
September 4, 2007
By EMILY RAMSHAW / The Dallas Morning News
eramshaw at dallasnews .com
AUSTIN - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent a
strongly worded reprimand to Texas A&M, warning the university it
won't be allowed to resume biodefense research until federal agents
are sure campus labs no longer pose a threat to public health.
The 21-page agency report follows a week-long campus visit by federal
investigators in July and months of scrutiny over the university's
failure to report lab workers being exposed to dangerous biological
The CDC report doesn't indicate whether the university will face a
penalty for failing to report one lab worker's infection with
Brucella and three others' exposure to Q Fever last year. That news,
which could include suspension of funding or up to $500,000 in fines,
is expected in a separate report from the U.S. Health and Human
Services Department's inspector general.
Document CDC review on Texas A&M
Nor does it lift the agency's ban on so-called "select agent"
research at Texas A&M, although it appears to outline steps for the
university to reclaim its federally funded, internationally
recognized program, which was halted this summer.
"Their status hasn't changed," said Von Roebuck, a spokesman for the CDC.
Among the shortfalls federal investigators found in the report, which
A&M released on Tuesday:
-- At least seven cases where Texas A&M allowed unauthorized access
to select agents.
-- Poor record-keeping, including several vials of Brucella reported
missing or unaccounted for.
--Unauthorized use of the select agent Brucella in labs and with
equipment not approved for the research.
--Lab workers failing to wear protective respiratory equipment, and
wearing coats used for experiments out of the lab setting.
--Employees being granted access to select agents without the proper
approval, training or medical surveillance.
The university "did not sufficiently address the particular needs of
the individual, the work they will do, and all of the risks posed by
the select agents," the report states.
Since June, when the infection and exposures leaked to the media, the
university has acknowledged failing to properly notify the CDC of the
cases, which involved infectious agents that could be used as
In the wake of media reports, university officials have also admitted
two other mistakes: conducting experiments in labs not approved for
them, and allowing unauthorized lab workers to use the agents.
Last month, the university's vice president for research stepped down
under pressure. A principal investigator supervising the experiments
remains on leave, and high-ranking officials close to the case have
said other job reassignments could follow the CDC report.
The university also lost its shot at housing a $450 million national
biodefense lab, though federal officials said the decision was not
based on the A&M security breaches.
In February 2006, a female lab worker fell seriously ill with
Brucella after she leaned into an aerosol chamber to clean it. Not
only did the university fail to report the case for a year, records
obtained by The Dallas Morning News indicated the woman was not
authorized to work with Brucella and should not even have been
cleaning up after the experiment.
Around that same time, three other researchers received blood tests
that showed they had elevated levels of Q-fever antibodies,
indicating they had been exposed. A&M officials didn't report this
case to the CDC either and insist that, because of the nature of the
case, they didn't have the responsibility to do it.
Other documents revealed by The News indicated that a mouse reported
missing in December after being infected with Q fever was never
found, though investigators believe it must have been thrown out with
other biohazard waste. As recently as April, another lab worker
reported high levels of Q-fever antibodies, although officials don't
know whether the researcher was exposed at A&M or at another lab.
Staff Writer Amy Rosen contributed to this report.
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