Consider all risks before building bio lab

Wednesday, June 27, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 4:46 p.m. CDT, Friday, July 18, 2008

Those who promote building a level 4 lethal disease lab here are gambling that this lab will never have an accident or leak.

But what are the odds of an accident? According to, in 1978, a contagious disease broke out in the vicinity of the New York Plum Island lab and all animals in the area were destroyed within 48 hours. In 2002, in a similar lab, a leak of anthrax occurred and, over the next 32 months, resulted in 161 mishaps. At another lab, exposure caused dozens of people in the lab vicinity to be quarantined.

Also scary is the Department of Homeland Security’s recognition that such a lab could attract terrorists.

The short-term gain from building the lab would create a huge flow of money toward MU and developers. However, could we count retirees, university students and faculty choosing not to move here, or current residents who would move elsewhere because of the documented risks posed by this lab?

The proposed new high school would have our students and teachers riding right past this lab twice a day. Also, the New Haven Elementary and Lenoir communities, as well as other residents in the area, would be exposed at all hours to this “top secret” lab.

Promoters of the lab are gambling with Columbia’s national reputation as a clean and safe city and its relative freedom from anxiety and uncertainty — qualities money can’t buy.

If you lack internet access, computers at the Daniel Boone Public Library will access for you and give you the addresses of those you can contact to let your concerns be known.

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