Biolab shouldn’t get off the ground

December 14, 2007

What a relief! The National Research Council (NRC) came to the same conclusion as many area residents who have heard the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Boston University’s (BU) presentations defending a proposed biolab to be located in the South End. NRC determined NIH/BU “simulated studies” were far from scientific and woefully inadequate in anticipating worst-case scenarios with outbreaks of deadly pathogens. Presenters from NIH and BU were clearly offended by the hostilities and disregard of many of the participants at a gathering at Faneuil Hall in September.

A good question would be, why were people so upset? We don’t consider the introduction of deadly pathogens like anthrax and Ebola to our city and neighborhood to be a joke. These pathogens kill. An outbreak could be a major disaster. The nurses’ union has stated their opposition to the project for many years, as they could not guarantee an adequate response. Worse, the lab could be an invitation to anyone with a pathological bent. As for the NIH report, we know when we are being given a snow job. Thankfully, the folks at the NRC concur, as they found the NIH report “not sound and credible.”

However, even if the findings were favorable, we, area residents, are the ones who must determine what is in our interests. How could a huge building in an urban area full of deadly pathogens with no local oversight be of benefit to us? Wouldn’t it be better to use the building as a school or clinic for public health services to people with asthma, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, HIV, hepatitis C and tooth decay—any of the many health problems currently plaguing Boston residents—as opposed to creating a new health threat?

Virginia Pratt