BLUE RIDGE ENVIRONMENTAL DEFENSE LEAGUE
PO Box 88 ~
Glendale Springs, North Carolina 28629 ~ Phone
(336) 982-2691 ~ Fax (336) 982-2954 ~ Email:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
SEPTEMBER 27, 2007
Louis Zeller 336-977-0852
Bill McKellar 919-575-4283
Janet Marsh 336-982-2691
GROUPS CHALLENGE DISEASE LAB
Today the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and the
Granville Non-violent Action Team submitted comments to the
Department of Homeland Security which up the ante in their
opposition to the biological defense laboratory proposed for
Butner. GNAT submitted more than 500 community-level comments.
Convinced that the proposed facility will create and test
biological weapons, the League aimed their comments at the legal
requirements in the National Environmental Policy Act. The Leagues
concerns were multiple:
1. The DHS must conduct a detailed study of the
environmental, health and economic impacts of siting,
building and operating a facility which would create and
test diseases which can be transferred from animals to
humans and for which there are no treatments or vaccines.
2. DHS must determine that the proposed facility is
needed. The Department must evaluate the two dozen
existing research labs in the Triangle area and show why
and how they are inadequate to protect North Carolinas
cows, pigs and chickens.
3. Two recent federal court decisions mandate that DHS
evaluate the likelihood and the impacts of terrorist
attacks on such a laboratory.
4. Under NEPA, DHS must evaluate thoroughly the adequacy
of existing emergency response programs and personnel.
DHS must detail emergency response needs including
notification of paid and volunteer first responders,
training and equipment needs, and funding requirements.
5. Because DHS is exempt from the federal Freedom of
Information Act, the disease laboratory would operate in
a shroud of secrecy. A true disease research facility
requires open scientific debate and peer review, both of
which would be denied at this plant.
6. The proposed facility would violate the international
Biological Weapons Convention, a treaty which the United
States has upheld since 1972.
Louis Zeller, principal author of the Leagues comments,
said Background documents show that the lab would engage in
acquiring, growing, modifying, storing, stabilizing, packaging
and dispersing biological agents. Diseases which fit the
research model include Bacillus anthracis, Clostridium botulinum
toxin and Ebola.
In response to the disease laboratory proposal, residents of
Granville and surrounding counties have gathered under the
Granville Non-violent Action Team banner. Bill McKellar, newly
elected head of GNAT, said, Our goal is to stop the
biological defense facility, period. In their comments
Granville residents addressed the environmental and social
injustice of siting such a dangerous facility near hospital
residents and prison inmates. Their concerns also included
burdens on the water supply and the existence of a Superfund
Janet Marsh, Executive Director of the League, summed up the
concerns of many North Carolinians: We are being asked to
trust a department which has neither competence nor credibility.
No disease research lab can be sited without full public
Seventeen years ago the League and GNAT worked together with
Granville Residents Opposed to Waste and Granville Musicians and
Friends to block the nations second largest hazardous waste
More info: BREDL
Comments on Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF)