Wednesday, August 03, 2005

DOE Reviews Infectious-Disease Lab Plans

By Adam Rankin
Journal Staff Writer

A federal review released Tuesday urges the U.S. Department of Energy to better coordinate plans for five infectious disease research labs— including one already built in Los Alamos— to ensure none are duplicative and that security concerns are properly addressed.

Efforts that were spurred by previous admonitions to increase planning around the construction and operation of DOE research labs— designed to study such diseases as live anthrax and plague— have fallen off and need to be renewed, wrote DOE's Inspector General Gregory Friedman in a letter accompanying the review.

And while DOE has undertaken some initial actions to create a central entity to coordinate such infectious disease research as a result of the current report, "more needs to be done," Friedman wrote, to integrate the work within DOE and other federal agencies.

The report served as fodder for DOE and laboratory watchdogs that have long opposed the agency's efforts to study biological agents in laboratories beside nuclear weapons research facilities.

"Bio labs could be tempting targets (for terrorists)," said Jay Coghlan, director of Nuclear Watch of New Mexico. "You would think there would be a national effort to coordinate security and make them more secure."


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Oh, yeah. I can't wait to read about contamination from LANL's infectious disease research lab being spread through the town and out of state.
August 8, 2070: text message burned onto a computer monitor recently unearthed in the western quarantine zone: “The levels, of course, are very, very low,” DeLucas said. “They are easily detected by our instruments, but they present no health hazard. We now believe that we have captured all material that has traveled off site.”
12 Monkeys 12 Monkeys 12 Monkeys

The very last places ANYONE should be messing around with pathogens are the NNSA lab complex. Why the vast programs for biodefense...what is the threat? Please show us the proof that we need to be worried about anything other than a rogue US scientist? Invest in cheap vaccines for normal diseases, cure HIV/AIDS, MDRTB, asthma, cancer, hep, flu...there are a million bad things that can happen, but some are more likely than others. There is not an infinite supply of taxpayer money, priorities must be set based on reality, not sci-fi scare tactics of journalists and wanna-be university-based biodefenders with dolar signs in their eyes. Like we need grad students trained how to grow and engineer germs!
But "normal diseases" aren't glamorous. Just because millions die from starvation, heart disease, and cancer!! We need to stop terrorists!
The question that should be asked is why. Why when organizations like NIH and Homeland Defense already exist is DOE/NNSA getting into the infectious disease business? The answer of course, to paraphrase a famous bank robber, is because that's where the money is. We, LANL, may have been built on nuclear weapons but if the funding for nukes starts to decline, we can/will do anything else you'll pay us for, even if we've never done it before.
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