Local News

Raleigh Comes Out Against Proposed Bio-Defense Lab

Posted February 19, 2008 6:14 a.m. EST
Updated February 19, 2008 7:19 p.m. EST

— The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to oppose a federal bio-defense laboratory proposed for Granville County.

Butner is one of five finalist locations that the Department of Homeland Security is considering for a National Bio- and Agro-Defense facility, which would study animal diseases and diseases spread from animals to humans. Supporters say the lab would bring about 1,500 short-term construction jobs and would eventually employ up to 500 people and could generate $6 billion in the local economy over the next two decades.

The idea of a lab studying avian flu, Mad Cow disease and other illnesses has upset local residents. Granville County commissioners withdrew their support for the project last month because of the growing opposition.

Raleigh officials began questioning the site for the lab last fall, saying they feared contamination in the headwaters of Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir.

On Tuesday, the council asked Homeland Security officials to address their concerns and those of Granville County officials. The council also demanded that federal officials devise a plan that would guarantee no sediment from the facility would flow into Falls Lake and create civilian oversight for the lab.

The council also suggested that federal officials look for another suitable site in North Carolina for the lab.

Other finalists for the facility are:

  • Flora Industrial Park, Madison County, Miss.
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kan.
  • Texas Research Park, San Antonio, Texas
  • University of Georgia/South Milledge Avenue, Athens, Ga.

The department is expected to choose a site in the fall. If Butner is selected, the lab could be operating by 2013.