Raleigh opposes proposed bio-defense lab

August 5, 2008 5:26:04 PM PDT
Another set-back for the plan to build a bio-defense lab in Butner.Monday Raleigh's City Council voted to oppose the proposed lab to be operated by the Department of Homeland Security.

It's a big win for many Butner residents who say they hate the plan, but a big set-back for those trying to grow the Triangle as a bio-tech center.

And it's turning the spot-light on a local congressman, who many feel has the power to make or break the controversial project.

Raleigh's City Council quietly voted to become the third city or town to say they do not want the bio-defense lab in Butner, either.

"Do not feel like they have adequately answered the City's questions." Raleigh City Manager Russell Allen said.

The federal government says it needs a new high security lab to study incurable animal illnesses, like foot and mouth disease.

The Department of Homeland Security is considering Butner and sites in five other states to build the lab.

But Raleigh has always been concerned about the lab's proximity to Falls Lake, a source of drinking water for almost half-a-million people.

"I do not believe that human beings can operate this facility for its 50 year lifespan without accidents. And I particularly believe Homeland Security cannot do so." Rougemont resident Katherine Spann said.

The major universities and bio-tech industry support the lab, which promises to bring more than 300 jobs.

But opponents are now focused on Congressman David Price, chair of the house appropriations sub-committee for Homeland Security. Price has previously supported the bio-lab.

"He communicates to Homeland Security, I do not want this facility in North Carolina, it will not come here." Granville County Sen. Doug Berger said.

Congressman Price sent out a statement saying it's too early to form a final opinion on the bio-defense lab. He says he is waiting for more environmental analysis.

Price also says he has taken steps to make sure the federal government can show that it's safe to conduct some of the research at a lab that is not on an island.


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