Opposition to Biolab grows; community forum next week

October 10, 2008

While plans for Boston University's (BU) Biolab won't be evaluated until 2010, opposition to this project remains strong. A recent letter to the editor published in the Herald draws attention to the many risks of the project. Attorney Laura Maslow-Armand of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and ACE Board member Dr. Daniel Goodenough authored the piece, highlighting wide security gaps in BU's plan.

Residents protest Boston University's Bioterrorism lab built in an EJ community

Among the laughable safety measures is the assertion that having two UPS or FedEx drivers instead of one handling the transportation of deadly viruses would be adequate to protect against an outbreak. BU also claims that using a "buddy system" in the laboratory would safeguard against "the risk of human error, inattention, and negligence."

Potential blunders at the lab, already built in a densely populated lower income community of color, would be catastrophic in a neighborhood that historically has low access to transportation and medical care. It would be the first Bio Safety Level 4 (BSL-4) lab in the nation to be located in a city center. BSL-4 labs are the highest level of biolabs and deal with the most dangerous pathogens known.

The lack of community accountability and federal oversight in BU's proposed Biolab project is both chilling and a clear example of another environmental injustice in Roxbury. Come voice your opinions on the Biolab at an upcoming public forum held by National Institutes of Health (NIH) this Tuesday in Roxbury. A webcast will also be available once the event is underway. More info on the organizing against the lab is available at www.stopthelab.org.