The NBAF is a lab to research animal and animal-to-human (or “zoonotic”) diseases, many of which have no treatments or vaccines and are deadly.
Where: the Durham/Granville county line, near Butner
Safety Concerns: The current lab is on a large uninhabited island off the coast of NY, surrounded by water, with no livestock nearby. That lab is home to “more than 50” exotic animal and zoonotic diseases which are looking for a new home. Even with a new high-tech building, people make mistakes. Of the 103 accidents reported at high-containment labs over the past 4 years, 90% were caused by human error.
Environmental Concerns: NBAF will be different from other labs such as the CDC in Atlanta, because it will research large animals. Those large animals, when infected with diseases for scientific testing, generate large amounts of infected waste. When they die, they have large carcasses which are infected and must be disposed of. This high volume of infected waste creates more opportunities for safety systems to break down and for NBAF workers to make mistakes which can result in a disease release.
The waste (which we hope they treat perfectly every time) would be released to the South Granville water treatment facility, and then into FallsLake. Four other reservoirs besides FallsLake (LakeMichie, LakeHolt, Little River Reservoir and Creedmoor’s reservoir) are within 5 miles of the site.
Economic Concerns: NBAF researchers will study live foot and mouth disease, which can wipe out livestock in a huge area in a short time. Release of food and mouth would devastate NC’s agricultural economy.
Nor is NBAF the economic windfall claimed by its promoters; instead, it may cost taxpayers money, now that Homeland Security is asking the State to kick in money. Homeland Security has said that NBAF will employ “250-350 people,” but people from the NY lab will be hired for many of these jobs, and many others will be staffed by a private company based in Alaska.
Security Concerns: Homeland Security’s Federal Protective Service would be in charge of security. But a recent report commissioned by Congress revealed that the FPS is performing poorly, with high staff turnover and much reliance on private security guards and local law enforcement – sometimes without the knowledge of the locals!
Secrecy Concerns: Since the Freedom of Information Act does not require disclosure of information related to national security, we will have little ability to monitor the operations of the NBAF, a “Defense Facility.” This lab will also do classified research.
Ethical Concerns: Butner is home to more than 7,000 institutionalized people – many severely disabled or mentally ill -- who cannot move. If there is a disease release from the lab, it will be impossible to evacuate most of them, potentially resulting in massive illness and deaths.
Once the NBAF comes here, we can’t send it back. Contact your local, state and federal elected officials, and tell them that NBAF in NC is a bad idea.
Granville Nonviolent Action Team · 919-575-4283