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Report - Sept 11th West Beaverton Association meeting - OHSU Bio-terror lab

The Sept 11th West Beaverton Association meeting was the third small public meeting to dicuss the OHSU proposal to build a bio-terrorism lab in Hillsboro at their Primate Center.
This one was distinctly different from the first two in that OHSU did not send a representative. They said that they feel that they are not going to get the bid for the grant and so they chose not to attend.

Matt Rossell of In Defense of Animals did attend and presented various reasons why he and others oppose the lab. At the two previous meetings, OHSU representatives generally took an adversarial attitude and the meetings were tense and combative. OHSU comes across as being there to tell people things, rather than engage in dialog. In contrast, this meeting was characterized by open dialog, relaxed atmosphere and thoughtful questions. The people attending were clearly interested to learn about the lab, and concerned by the things they heard. A number of people asked what they could do to voice their concern or opposition. Matt took the time to articulate some of the main points that OHSU has made in response to some questions so that the 25 or so attendees could have some understanding of the OHSU position. One person remarked that they doubted OHSU would do the same in return.

This meeting also marked the emergence of new information that had not come to light in the previous meetings.

Barbara Shadrick, NIAID's (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Senior Contracting Officer in charge of this contract said that because BSL-4 labs are so scarce and costly, it would be NIH's policy to make the lab available to scientists from other federal agencies and departments, including the Department of Defense, to do research requiring BSL-4 facilities for their own projects. The CIA has conducted what was at the time secret bio-weapons research.

At the two previous meetings, OHSU clearly avoided answering the question of classified military research. They did try to give the impression that it would not happen by saying that the lab is not designed for it. This is directly contradicted by the statements of the NIH (and NIAID) themselves. In a March 2002 interview reported on the Department of Homeland Security's website, for example, NIAID Director, Anthony Fauci said that he expects that in the next few years the NIH will be doing a lot of work in partnership with the Department of Defense.

OHSU will only be managing the day to day running of the lab, while the oversight of research priorities and projects is jointly under the control of the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

The head of the University of Washington department which was awarded the "Center of Excellence" grant that OHSU was seeking said they did not apply for the bsl-4 lab because they believe the lab will be doing classified research "and lots of it."

50 members of the University of California Davis faculty signed a petition opposing this same lab there. Much of their rationale is based on this information.

Now either OHSU is trying to mislead the public, or they are grossly misinformed about the nature of the lab they are applying for.