Local News

Butner pulls support for bio-lab

Posted August 8, 2008 10:43 a.m. EDT
Updated August 12, 2008 7:57 a.m. EDT

— The Town Council voted unanimously Thursday to withdraw its support for a proposed federal research lab, which has become the target of growing opposition from residents and neighboring communities.

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.

Local residents have rallied in opposition to the proposed lab, fearing germs for diseases like avian flu could be released in the community or a possible terrorist attack.

Granville County officials also withdrew their support for the lab earlier this year, and the Raleigh City Council expressed formal opposition to the lab this week, saying they wanted to protect the headwaters of Falls Lake, the city's primary reservoir, from possible contamination.

Butner officials initially supported the lab, then adopted a neutral position while awaiting a federal environmental impact statement.Butner Councilman Elbert Oakley said he and his colleagues "wanted to know the truth about the lab" but said they feel "the federal government has not given us enough information."

A Homeland Security spokesman said department officials would take the lack of local support for the lab into consideration in deciding whether to locate it in Butner. A final decision is expected this fall.