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Activists Reunite to Fight Lab That Others Tout as Great Granville Opportunity

Posted October 9, 2007

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— They banded together in the late ‘80s, fighting to keep a proposed incinerator from coming to Granville County.

Now, that same group – the Granville Non-Violent Action Team, or GNAT – is reuniting with a similar goal. GNAT wants to stop a proposed bio-defense lab from coming to Butner.

GNAT says it’s committed to its cause, but others in Granville say that getting the federal facility would be a "win-win."

Edie McKellar is a veteran of the 1989 incinerator battle.

“It's a scary thing they're bringing here, and we don't deserve something like this,” McKellar says.

Johnny Balmer, president-elect of the Granville County Chamber of Commerce, voices the opposite argument.

“It's a no-brainer. It's good for Granville County,” Balmer says.

Both sides are talking about the National Bio- and Agro-Defense facility. Butner is one of five communities in the country on the short list of sites for it.

Balmer says 350-450 jobs, about 1,500 short-term construction jobs and a $1.65 billion impact on the local economy make it too good to pass up.

The group is concerned about the environmental impact of the plant, and they say it could be a target for terrorists.

John Pike, an opponent says, “We certainly don't deserve to be dumped on, and we certainly don't deserve to be dumped on two, three, four, five times.”

The incinerator battle was hard fought. McKellar, a GNAT member, said she remembers all too well sitting under a drill that was ready to strike and getting arrested.

“We fought for what was right and I'm proud of it,” McKellar said.

“A lot of times when people have the not-in-my-backyard mentality they don't think through the process of the economic benefit to the county,” Balmer says.

GNAT vows not to give up. The members believe they're protecting their families and their community from a potentially risky situation, just like they did nearly 20 years ago.

A final selection on a lab site is expected about a year from now. If Butner is chosen, the lab could be up and running by 2013.

4 Comments

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  • mypetsrule Oct 10, 2007

    I think jlynwin and ladyblue's blogs say it all with a sense of humor. Well said.

  • TechRescue Oct 10, 2007

    If it's so great, then why isn't Meeker screaming for it to be put on , say, the Dorthea Dix property? From your description, it sounds like it would greatly improve the environment there, and the jobs would certainly be welcome in that part of Raleigh. After all, there's no threat to anyone, major interstate just a few miles away, closer to RTP than the Butner site, and the Politicians that love it so much could hold their afternoon teas in the lab.

    Win-Win, right? Or is there some other reason that the "suitable" location for it is a rural area?

  • Codepwned Oct 10, 2007

    I was directly associated with the website for this project. http://www.ncc-nbaf.org. It is hosted by CIPM (Center for Integrated Pest Management) at NC State.

    The website is full of FACTS. There is no politically spinning media there. You can verify them all through public record. The whole point of the site is to explain the reality of a facility like this.

    The water coming in will go back out CLEANER than it came in.

    The site is interactive, meaning that if you have a question, ask it. You might not get a direct response, but they do listen and constantly update their FAQ and news appropriately.

    I've been around IPM and disease control most of my life. Just read the FAQ. Read the Tech documentation they provide. It's not filled with propaganda. It's the reality of how secure this facility is and the levels of detail they go to ensure a safe environment. If that doesn't convince you, then I don't know what will.

  • areadriver Oct 9, 2007

    There is a HUGE difference between a dump and a lab. A dump brings seagulls and rodents. A lab brings white collar scientists with white collar paychecks to put back into the community.