State News

North Carolina Among 5 States Named As Finalists for National Germ Lab

Posted July 11, 2007
Updated July 12, 2007

— A site near Butner, N.C., is one of five finalists for a $450 million national lab in which killer germs like anthrax, avian flu and foot-and-mouth disease will be studied.

Sites in Texas, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina were chosen as possible hosts for the 520,000-square-foot National Bio- and Agro-Defense Lab, said several members of Congress.

Reps. David Price, Brad Miller and Bob Etheridge jointly announced North Carolina’s inclusion in the final five.

Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Jackson cold the congressmen about the Butner news, the three said in a joint statement.

“I’m convinced there isn’t a location in the country that is better suited to support this research lab,” said Price, who is chairman of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee in the House. “Our area’s fine research universities, the site’s proximity to the airport and RTP, and our highly educated work force all make the Triangle site a perfect fit for this critical Homeland Security facility.”

The sites were chosen by a team from the Homeland Security, along with the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.

The facility will replace an aging, smaller lab at Plum Island, N.Y., where security lapses after the 2001 terrorist attacks drew scrutiny from Congress and government investigators. It would bring at least 300 lab-related jobs and more in construction, officials have said.

Congress provided money for the $47 million design and architecture work, but no money has been appropriated for construction or operations yet.

The winner should be announced next year, with the lab operating by 2014.

The lab will have the highest-level security rating, since it would be equipped to handle the most lethal, incurable disease agents.

The other four sites that made the final cut are in San Antonio; Athens, Ga.; Manhattan, Kan.; and Madison County, Miss.

Sites that didn't make the cut were in California, Oklahoma, Maryland, Missouri, Wisconsin and Kentucky, which was working with Tennessee.

The Plum Island lab to be replaced conducts research on foot-and-mouth disease and other germs to protect agriculture and livestock from foreign diseases. The new lab will do that and research on other diseases and contagions, possibly including anthrax, smallpox and Marburg and Lhassa, rare hemorrhagic fevers that attack the vascular system.

17 Comments

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  • plain logic Jul 12, 2007

    We drive out the dangerous waste disposal company because it's a public safety hazard when it , and replace it with something potentialy more dangerous... an experimental lab full of deadly toxins. Makes no sense. Hope someone in charge knows the difference between risk and responsibilty.

  • Scarecrow Cow Jul 12, 2007

    I hope we get it. This is really neat.

  • sjmr1216 Jul 12, 2007

    good grief...some of you are insane...this is fantastic news. it opens up all kinds of research opportunities for our more prominent research scientists and jobs for the locals. don't worry about something happening, this building will have so many countermeasures against leaks and exposures, it might make your head spin...

  • rc4nc Jul 12, 2007

    Well the farmers already spread sludge (for use as fertilizer) from the current Butner facilities all over the surrounding counties without a thought of the runoff into none other than the Roanoke and Tar river basins. River basins that supply water to southern Virginia and northern NC, there is even talk of running water lines to Wake Co. from there. Don't guess that experimenting/studing anthrax, avian flu and foot-and-mouth disease is something they currently allow to be outsourced to our enemies? This is not a prize I wouldn't have referred to it as NC being the finalist, as though we were "winning" something of value. I'm against locating such a facility in NC.

  • k9sandQtrs Jul 11, 2007

    Nice, I'll feel real comfortable about their supplies travelling up and down I95 and I40.....

  • rand321 Jul 11, 2007

    While the sound of these toxins sounds awful, the caliber of researh and researchers would be a boon for this area. I hope our congressional delegation can land it for NC.

    We already have research much closer in RTP on a number of equally noxious agents. The desert might be a safter place, but it would be harder to attract the talent required to conduct the research.

    We most likly have more to fear from the dioxins around RDU and in Lake Crabtree.

  • sentinel94m Jul 11, 2007

    Now we are proabably going to be dealing with a facility that holds the worlds DEADLIEST diseases in our own area. That is not very comforting... The scenario I think of is closely related to the moron who contracted the RARE and DEADLY case of Tuburculosis, and his dad worked in a place exactly like this...

    I definately do NOT like this. Not one bit.

  • QT3.14 Jul 11, 2007

    Right in my backyard - that's comforting. At least a break from the prisons won't be my biggest concern anymore. :-)

  • 68_polara Jul 11, 2007

    I'll live between 10-15 minutes from this place. I'd rather they put it in a more remote location like some old military base in the dessert out west. That way if something were to happen their would be a better chance of containing it.

  • Steve Crisp Jul 11, 2007

    Excellent news. A facility like this will do nothing but drive high-tech employment through the roof. And it is located close to UNC and Duke medical centers, RTP, and NCSU ag department. There is already a tremendous pool of talant to draw from.

    And don't worry about the security of the facility. There will be few places on earth that have the security of that place.

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