The OHSU representatives seemed interested in canceling the meeting. They were quick to support a suggestion to do so made by one individual who was unknown to the neighborhood organizers. Maybe the PR guy wanted to go have a beer rather than talk to citizens about such an important issue. |
There were about 30 people at the meeting. The meeting chairperson said their meetings usually have 3-4 people. She asked the room where people were from. Many of those 30 or so people were from other neighborhoods but were very interested in the lab and so they attended.
Much the same information was presented by OHSU and by Matt Rossell for and against the proposals. No need to go into it here.
A couple points to note. Matt Rossell was talking about some of his experiences while working at the bsl-3 lab. He saw calves infected with cryptosporidia, a deadly waterborne bacteria, secreted out and given to a technician to take home. When he said it was a deadly disease, the OHSU representative said that is it only deadly to people with weakened immune systems. A number of people expressed to me afterwards that they were offended by this remark because it portrays people with weakened immune systems as unimportant. One person also said that: "I am very concerned that OHSU tried to brush off the fact that these actions both violated their protocol and the law. If they are going to ignore such a violation as somehow unimportant because it is only deadly to people with 'weakened immune systems', why ever should they be trusted with more deadly diseases?"
OHSU tried to make the point that according to them, there has never been a leak from a bsl-4 lab. They ignored the fact that the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks came from such a lab, and that since that time, when security has supposedly been much tighter, there have been 2 incidents of anthrax spores being found outside the Ft. Detrick lab.
Another attendee said after the meeting: "If they [OHSU] didn't just brush away peoples concerns and stick to obviously false positions, I might be more inclined to trust them. They talk down to people and act as if they were God. Everyone makes mistakes and that should be recognized in considering such facilities and whether we should build them. It is our money and our lives at risk and we should have a say."
Jim Orzechowski, former designer of U.S.BSL-4 labs, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times, June 25 2003: "You never get the straight stories...None of those laboratories can meet their own requirements in terms of containment." He also stated, referring to the new labs, "We're getting as close to fail-safe as possible...as fail-safe as the space shuttle."
No Bio-Terror Lab Website