Tuesday, April 28, 2009

hurricanes, tornados and plague, OH MY!!!

The Scientist | A much-contested plan to build a $450 million government biodefense research lab has hit another snag: A group of Texas research organizations that lobbied for San Antonio to house the lab says it will sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its choice of site -- Manhattan, Kansas.

The Texas Biological and Agro-Defense Consortium earlier this week (April 22) filed a notice of its intent to sue DHS, a required step for suits against the government. They argue that the choice of Kansas for the site of the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF), which would handle the world's most dangerous pathogens, was based on political machinations and overlooks the danger frequent tornadoes would pose to the facility.

John Kerr, chairman of the group, said that locating NBAF in Manhattan, Kan., would be "grossly irresponsible, the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature," according to the Associated Press.

Kerr argued that although DHS had initially ranked the Texas site slightly higher than Kansas, the agency's secretary in charge of choosing the site, Navy Admiral Jay Cohen, gave Kansas preference -- due to ties with Kansas officials involved in the process -- by making numerous visits there, the AP reports. Kansas officials deny the claim of political preference.

Kansas Bioscience Authority president Tom Thornton said in a statement: "...the Department of Homeland Security deserves commendation, not litigation, for the extremely comprehensive and fair process it undertook to ensure the success of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. Only Kansas offers a credible pathway to jumpstart the NBAF's critical mission."

We earlier visited the intrinsic foolishness of situating a BSL-4 pathogen research and containment facility in the middle of hurricane alley, that goes double for tornado alley...,