Archive for the ‘Environmental Hazards’ Category
(c) Copyright 2009-Letitia Peters and National Indoor Mold Society.
By KEVIN DUFFY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
February 17, 2009
Greg and Kimberly Cole and their three children have slept in cars, in a tent, in a motel, at friends’ houses — all to avoid staying at their $429,000 house in Marietta.
The Coles say construction problems at their 3,400-square-foot house led to cracks, leaks and mold that’s sickened them.
They went to binding arbitration with John Wieland Homes and Neighborhoods because that’s what their home warranty required. Builders require buyers to agree to arbitration to avoid costly litigation when conflicts arise. But the Coles say arbitration failed them. Many of the repairs they sought were rejected by the arbitrator, and the ones that were ordered almost two years ago have not been made.
Homeowners recently visited the office of Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock) to advocate changing state arbitration law to strengthen the homeowners’ hand. Rogers said last week he’s heard only the homeowners’ side of the story and is still looking into the issue.
“It sounds as if maybe the arbitration system needs to be changed so you don’t have what appears to be a very predictable outcome in every instance,” he said.
The Coles and other homeowners believe arbitrators are closely tied to home builders, to the detriment of homeowners.
“We already knew which way it was going to go. They just showed up,” said Jeanette Martin, who lost an arbitration in Fayette County involving Morningside Homes LLC. “I think all of them know each other.”
Bill Clements was involved in a dispute with Sharp Residential over problems with joists and wood floors at his new home in Kennesaw.
“It’s a kangaroo court for the homeowner,” Clements said. “We won but it was a grossly short amount of money considering what had to be done. My hardwood floors are a disaster.”
And because the arbitration decision is binding, “there’s no appeal whatsoever,” Clements said.
State law leaves the selection of the arbitrator up to builder agreements or the courts; both sides can employ attorneys. Wieland Homes required Cole and Hollin to use arbitrators selected by Construction Arbitration Associates because CAA is cost effective, John Wieland said.
Wieland said the Coles rebuffed offers to buy back the house at a premium and later prevented the builder from making repairs the arbitrator ordered. Greg Cole said Wieland offered only what he paid and he denied blocking repair efforts.
James Hollin, an attorney who lives in a Wieland community in Fayette County, lost an arbitration decision regarding room sizes and other issues.
“We think there’s a bit of bias” in how arbitrators are chosen, Hollin said. Arbitrators should be state vetted and chosen randomly or homeowners should help select them, he said.
Hollin withdrew three claims in his arbitration and lost on seven others, including seeking restitution for 30 shrubs eaten by deer after closing. Wieland Homes was ordered to repair sod and remove boulders.
Arbitration works, Wieland said, because otherwise “unhappy people can go into court and cost builders a lot of money, and it can end up there’s nothing wrong. The jury is not a construction expert.”
Homeowners voice skepticism about arbitrators’ neutrality in part because they teach courses on behalf of home builders.
Robert Merz, the owner of CAA, led courses last summer on quality construction sponsored by Bowen Family Homes. The home builder used Merz’s presentation to help market Stonehaven Pointe in Forsyth County.
“The construction at Stonehaven is superior,” Merz is quoted as saying on the Bowen Homes Web site. “I looked for areas that needed improvement to use for instructional purposes, but, honestly, the homes were built so well that flaws were not evident.”
Merz, a former instructor at Georgia Tech, said in an interview he teaches courses approved by the Georgia Real Estate Commission, and some are for the benefit of buyers.
“Promotion for the courses at Bowen was outside the arbitration guise,” he said.
CAA selected Tom Gotschall, president of Construction Diagnostic Services, to arbitrate the Cole case. Gotschall also teaches courses but said “I’m not myself a home builder. I’m not part of that community.”
“I must take an oath of neutrality. I take that seriously,” he said.
Arbitration often is held at the house in dispute and can take a few hours or all day as both sides make their arguments. Gotschall ruled for and against the Coles on a long list of issues in 2007 but little has come of it.
Their house is in foreclosure because the Coles stopped making payments two years ago.
“The roof leaks, the windows leak, the door leaks,” Greg Cole said. “The house is basically worthless.”
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
by Marcus Stern, ProPublica – February 10, 2009
The U.S. Army has suspended research with deadly agents and toxins at the military’s top germ warfare lab, which came under intense scrutiny after the FBI identified it as the source of the anthrax used in the 2001 “Amerithrax” attacks that killed five, injured 17 and kept the nation on knife-edge for weeks.
The suspension, announced internally last week at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), was attributed to concerns about whether the facility had an accurate inventory of all the deadly “select agents ” in its freezers and refrigerators. Select agents are the most dangerous and tightly regulated biological substances used in research, including anthrax, Yersinia pestis (plague) and the Ebola and Marburg viruses.
The FBI last year contended that Bruce Ivins, who worked on anthrax vaccines at USAMRIID’s labs in Ft. Detrick, Md., engineered the 2001 attacks. Ivins, who had become emotionally troubled, committed suicide before the government could try to prove its theory in court.
As we reported in a three-part series in December , many WMD experts are worried that the $20 billion the federal government has spent on bio-defense research in the past seven years might actually have put the nation at even greater risk of a bioterrorism attack because the spending has spawned a proliferation of labs and scientists working with “select agents.” 
Last week’s suspension of much of the germ-warfare research at the military’s top bio-defense laboratory is just the latest in safety problems at bio-defense facilities  around the country attributed to lax security.
John P. Skvorak, the commanding officer at USAMRIID, notified researchers in an internal memo that the lab was unable to meet Defense Department requirements that all biological select agents and toxins (BSAT) used in the facility be tracked and logged in a database.
Over the past four decades, as researchers have come and gone and programs have been started and completed, select agents no longer in use have accumulated in corners of the facility, according to one official. Much of it has become forgotten, she added.
“I believe that the probability that there are additional vials of BSAT not captured in our database is high,” Skvorak wrote in the memo, which was first reported  Monday by Science magazine.
He added: “We must take immediate steps to meet the Army and (Defense Department) definition of 100% accountability. Therefore, we will stand down until we have inventoried all freezers and refrigerators.”
USAMRIID spokesperson Caree Vander Linden confirmed to ProPublica that research has been suspended, adding that the inventory would be “very labor intensive” and could last weeks or months.
As we noted in our December investigation , there has long been concern about the growing number of public and private labs in the U.S. using select agents. This is especially true after Ivins alleged ability to put a spoonful of high-quality anthrax in envelopes and send them around the country without risk that the missing anthrax would show up on an electronic inventory at Fort Detrick.
Residents living near the Fort Detrick facility have expressed mounting concern about construction there of a bio-defense campus for the entire federal government.
“People in Frederick have been raising concerns about inventory control, personnel issues and accidents for years,” said Beth Willis, a community activist in nearby Frederick, Md. “A stand-down of operations is appropriate, but it needs to continue until all of these fundamental safety issues are addressed,” she added.
Tags: Army, Bio-Research Labs, Biological Weapons, Fort Detrick
By Judy Seifert
December 6, 2008 – 11:59 a.m. EST
VASSAR — Residents of Manor Ridge Apartments hope they’re seeing some light at the end of their black mold tunnel.
Owners of the 32-unit complex located on Welsh Boulevard hired an air quality company to run some tests this week. “We received a letter saying they were doing the tests, but nothing else,” said 92-year-old resident Aliene Thurston.
“We hope we hear about the results,” she said.
Their problem at the complex is a black mold problem that started several months ago with a leak in ceiling water pipes. The mold was not contained and has since spread, moving into closets and the walls.
The president of IAQ Management, the company conducting the tests, was not willing to discuss the work being done at Manor Ridge. He said he would need written permission from the building’s owners to do so.
Seventeen residents live at the complex and, last week, several consulted an attorney.
Thurston said they were advised to stop paying their rent or put the money in an escrow account until they get some results.
“The company that owns this building needs to prove to us that it is safe to live here,” she added. “And what’s really sad is that we all really enjoy living here and don’t want to move.”
Thurston said she’s already made up her mind. “I’ve told everyone that the only move I’ll ever make again in my life is either to an assisted living home, a convelescent center or the funeral home. That’s it for me.”
According to residents, when mold first appeared in the ceiling tiles, the surrounding insulation and additional affected panels were not immediately removed. Plastic sheeting was stapled over the areas, but that hasn’t solved the problem.
The complex is managed by KMG Prestige Property Management. Thurston said she’s had several conversations with a representative of the company and was told that steps were being taken to resolve any issues.
The complex is considered subsidized living, and several government agencies are involved, including the United States Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Of the 17 residents living there, Thurston said only two will likely not hold back on paying their rent.
“The rest of us will though. The only way to get these people to pay any attention to us it seems is to not give them what they want – their money,” she added.
The Advertiser has been unable to reach anyone from KMG Prestige. Messages left have remained unanswered.
Judy Seifert is a staff writer for the Tuscola County Advertiser. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By MICHAEL GRACZYK Associated Press Writer
SMITH POINT, Texas—A 30-mile scar of debris along the Texas coast stands as a festering testament to what state and local officials say is FEMA’s sluggish response to the 2008 hurricane season.
Two and a half months after Hurricane Ike blasted the shoreline, alligators and snakes crawl over vast piles of shattered building materials, lawn furniture, trees, boats, tanks of butane and other hazardous substances, thousands of animal carcasses, perhaps even the corpses of people killed by the storm.
State and local officials complain that the removal of the filth has gone almost nowhere because FEMA red tape has held up both the cleanup work and the release of the millions of dollars that Chambers County says it needs to pay for the project.
Elsewhere along the coast, similar complaints are heard: The Federal Emergency Management Agency has been slow to reimburse local governments for what they have already spent, putting the rural counties on the brink of financial collapse.
“I don’t know all the internal workings of FEMA. But if they’ve had a lot of experience in hurricanes and disaster, it looks like they could come up with some kind of process that would work,” said Chambers County Judge Jimmy Sylvia, the county’s chief administrator.
Gov. Rick Perry was so incensed at delays in sending cleanup crews to the rotting, city-size pile of waste that he angrily told reporters two weeks ago that he is going to have the state clean it up and then stick FEMA with the bill.
FEMA, whose very name became a bitter joke after the agency’s botched response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, said it is working as fast as it can considering the complex regulations and the need to guard against fraud and waste in the use of taxpayer dollars.
Moreover, “you can’t work too many people because it’s just too dangerous,” said Clay Kennelly, hired by FEMA to oversee the cleanup of a section of the debris pile. “And you can’t just put Bubba or Skeeter out here on a dozer.”
The 2008 hurricane season ended this week after walloping the Texas and Louisiana Gulf coasts with three major storms: Dolly, near the Mexican border in July; Gustav, which slammed the Texas-Louisiana line on Labor Day; and Ike, the 600-mile-wide monster that barreled ashore at Galveston on Sept. 12.
Only a hundred yards or so of the 30 miles of debris in Chambers County has been cleaned up, because the project has been slowed by negotiations over who is responsible for what.
Along the rest of the Gulf Coast, thousands of homeless families are still living in tents, trailers and motel rooms, and hundreds of businesses are lying in near-ruin.
The federal government is responsible for public lands or hazardous waste, while private landowners must handle their own cleanup but can apply for assistance. Much of the debris has been left to rot while crews determine whose land the junk is on and what’s in it.
Galveston County Judge Jim Yarbrough tells the story of receiving word on Sept. 12, as Ike closed in on Galveston, that FEMA was sending him $1.8 million of his $3 million request for storm cleanup—from Hurricane Rita, three years ago.
“Good Lord! The red tape and rules you have to go through to get anything done,” Yarbrough said. “On Hurricane Ike, when we’re putting out tens of millions, we can’t afford a three-year reimbursement program. It would bankrupt most entities in this area if it takes that long.”
In Louisiana, hit by two storms this year, Gov. Bobby Jindal complimented the agency on improvements made since Katrina but criticized FEMA’s focus on paperwork and an inability to make decisions quickly.
“It has gotten better, but the problem you’ve got with FEMA is that they’re looking for reasons to say ‘no,’” Jindal said. “While they’ve made progress since ’05, there’s such an emphasis on filling out paperwork. They need to have a focus on results.”
In an e-mail statement, FEMA said the recovery process “continues seamlessly,” and it noted the many rules and overlapping jurisdictions involved.
“The steps in the process of recovery include many at the individual, local, state and federal level,” FEMA said. “In large measure they are understandable safeguards.”
FEMA pointed out that more than $1 billion in federal and state aid already has gone to Texas in disaster assistance since Ike, with about one-third of that in grants for temporary housing rent and another third in low-interest loans for renters, homeowners and businesses. The state has estimated the total pricetag at $11 billion.
Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, whose area includes Houston, complained that FEMA’s bureaucracy is unwieldy. He recalled a FEMA official showing up at his office after Ike and declaring he was “going to be joined at the hip with you in this whole process.”
“Then the next week, somebody else would show up and tell me the same thing,” Emmett said. And then somebody else. “That was really frustrating to me.”
Near the Mexican border, thousands of families remain in homes damaged by Dolly, the storm that blew ashore on South Padre Island on July 23. FEMA was helpful at first, but bureaucracy and the distraction of the other hurricanes have slowed the recovery, local officials said.
A farmworker rights organization and 14 poor South Texas residents sued FEMA last month, accusing the agency of refusing to help thousands of poor families repair their homes.
“I understand they have Hurricane Ike, but we had a Category 2 come through the Valley, too,” Hidalgo County Judge J.D. Salinas said.
November 25, 2008
City Hall made a wise choice in 2005 to raze the Frazier Courts public housing complex in South Dallas. It was a rodent-infested slum full of broken-down apartments, drug dealers and poor families with little hope. In its place today are scores of new townhome-style residences that advocates describe as a national model, the new face of public housing.
It might be a new face, but old problems are resurfacing. The second phase of the project, dubbed Frazier Wahoo, is not even a year old, and already there are signs of defects, shoddy workmanship and neglect by the Dallas Housing Authority and its on-site contractor, Alpha-Barnes Real Estate Management.
Residents complain of rodent infestation. Poorly maintained Dumpsters, near some residents’ back doors, create a stinking eyesore. Leaky pipes in ceilings have gone only partially repaired. Walls are so cheaply painted that residents are told not to wipe them because the paint will come off, too. Beige carpeting is so cheap that it turns black when any liquid, even tap water, is spilled on it.
On one recent afternoon, residents scurried inside when a group of young men congregated on a front porch to gamble with dice. They shouted expletives menacingly, while loud music from their car made neighbors’ windows rattle.
It took considerable time and effort to get our questions answered by Alpha-Barnes managers. They seemed adept at passing the blame. Rodents are the result of residents living uncleanly, they said, or because of construction around Frazier Wahoo.
Shoddy workmanship is the builder’s problem, they added. If residents don’t want black carpet stains, they shouldn’t spill stuff. If youths are gambling or selling drugs, it’s the residents’ responsibility to report it to the police.
Michael Gerber, executive director of the Texas Housing and Community Affairs Department, said he would seek more thorough answers from DHA, which already is under federal scrutiny after audits last year exposed serious accounting and mismanagement issues.
Mr. Gerber dispatched his top compliance chief, Patricia Murphy, from Austin for a personal inspection after our newspaper contacted his office. Mr. Gerber warned that he takes a “dim view” of poorly maintained properties and warned that DHA could face fines of up to $1,000 per day, per violation.
Overall, Ms. Murphy said she was impressed by Frazier Wahoo’s condition – as are we. But she cited the carpeting problem as a red flag. “The carpet would definitely not pass inspection. They can spend a [little] money on cheap carpet, or they can spend a lot of money on something better.” Either way, the existing carpet will have to be replaced.
Several low-income residents also complained that Alpha-Barnes issues informal bills for “excess utilities” that can be twice the amount of the rent. When residents asked Alpha-Barnes staff to explain the charges, they were told to go away. One resident, Zonia Draught, said she was told she could not see her own utility bill because it was “discretionary information.”
Alpha-Barnes officials said they would correct the billing problem by January.
We continue to have high hopes for Frazier Wahoo. Its amenities are top-notch: central heat and air conditioning, dishwashers and washer-dryer combos. Architectural innovation and eye-pleasing neighborhood layouts could help shatter negative images of public housing.
If Frazier succeeds, it can help DHA break a long cycle of degradation that made old tenements such as Frazier Courts and Turner Courts synonymous with urban decay.
There’s every reason for residents to take pride in their homes and share responsibility to keep the Frazier Wahoo complex looking nice. But the project cannot be managed on auto-pilot by DHA and Alpha-Barnes.
Pride is key to success. Pride makes people care about themselves, their families and their neighbors. The many blighted areas of South Dallas got that way, in large part, because residents stopped caring. Southern Dallas cannot hope to attract much-needed business investment unless residents – along with DHA – make a concerted effort to uplift their neighborhoods’ appearance.
So we point out Frazier Wahoo’s problems in order to serve warning: Don’t allow the same old patterns of neglect to turn this gem into just another public-housing tenement. If Frazier Wahoo goes bad, it will drag the surrounding neighborhood with it – along with southern Dallas’ dreams of revitalization.
ANNE USHER/Cox News Service
WASHINGTON – At least one in four U.S. veterans of the 1991 Gulf War suffers from a multi-symptom illness caused by exposure to toxic chemicals during the conflict, a congressionally mandated report being released Monday found.
For much of the past 17 years, government officials have maintained that these veterans — more than 175,000 out of about 697,000 deployed — are merely suffering the effects of wartime stress, even as more have come forward recently with severe ailments.
“The extensive body of scientific research now available consistently indicates that ‘Gulf War illness’ is real, that it is the result of neurotoxic exposures during Gulf War deployment, and that few veterans have recovered or substantially improved with time,” said the report, being released Monday by a panel of scientists and veterans. A copy was obtained by Cox Newspapers.
Gulf War illness is typically characterized by a combination of memory and concentration problems, persistent headaches, unexplained fatigue and widespread pain. It may also include chronic digestive problems, respiratory symptoms and skin rashes.
Two things the military provided to troops in large quantities to protect them — pesticides and pyridostigmine bromide (PB), aimed at thwarting the effects of nerve gas — are the most likely culprits, the panel found.
The Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses, created by Congress in 2002, presented its 450-page report to Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake on Monday. It said its report is the first to review the hundreds of U.S. and international studies on Gulf War vets since that have been conducted the mid-1990s.
In a 2004 draft report to Congress, the panel said that many Gulf veterans were suffering from neurological damage caused by exposure to toxic chemicals.
The new report goes further by pinpointing known causes and it criticizes past U.S. studies, which have cost more than $340 million, as “overly simplistic and compartmentalized.”
It recommends that the Department of Veterans Affairs order a re-do of past Gulf War and Health reports, calling them “skewed” because they did not include evaluations of toxic exposure studies in lab animals, as Congress had requested.
The panel examined such tests and noted that recent ones — unethical to carry out on humans – have identified biological effects from Gulf War exposures that were previously unknown.
While it called some new VA and DOD programs promising, it noted that overall federal funding for Gulf War research has dropped sharply in recent years. Those studies that have been funded, it said, “have little or no relevance to the health of Gulf War veterans, and for research on stress and psychiatric illness.”
“Veterans of the 1990-1991 Gulf War had the distinction of serving their country in a military operation that was a tremendous success, achieved in short order. But many had the misfortune of developing lasting health consequences that were poorly understood and, for too long, denied or trivialized,” the committee’s report says.
The report also faults the Pentagon, saying it clearly recognized scientific evidence substantiating Gulf War illness in 2001 but did not acknowledge it publicly.
It said that Acting Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Gulf War illnesses Lt. Gen. Dale Vesser remarked that year that although Saddam Hussein didn’t use nuclear, biological, or chemical agents against coalition forces during the war — an assertion still debated — “It never dawned on us ././. that we may have done it to ourselves.”
Click here for the rest of story
For more about the Committee and its activities, click here.
Bio Lab in Galveston Raises Concerns
By JAMES C. McKINLEY JR
Published: October 28, 2008
GALVESTON, Tex. — Much of the University of Texas medical school on this island suffered flood damage during Hurricane Ike, except for one gleaming new building, a national biological defense laboratory that will soon house some of the most deadly diseases in the world.
How a laboratory where scientists plan to study viruses like Ebola and Marburg ended up on a barrier island where hurricanes regularly wreak havoc puzzles some environmentalists and community leaders.
“It’s crazy, in my mind,” said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in Houston. “I just find an amazing willingness among the people on the Texas coast to accept risks that a lot of people in the country would not accept.”
Officials at the laboratory and at the National Institutes of Health, which along with the university is helping to pay for the $174 million building, say it can withstand any storm the Atlantic hurls at it.
Built atop concrete pylons driven 120 feet into the ground, the seven-floor laboratory was designed to stand up to 140-mile-an-hour winds. Its backup generators and high-security laboratories are 30 feet above sea level.
“The entire island can wash away and this is still going to be here,” Dr. James W. LeDuc, the deputy director of the laboratory, said. “With Hurricane Ike, we had no damage. The only evidence the hurricane occurred was water that was blown under one of the doors and a puddle in the lobby.”
The project enjoyed the strong support of three influential Texas Republicans: President Bush, a former Texas governor; Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison; and the former House majority leader, Tom DeLay, whose district includes part of Galveston County. Officials at the National Institutes of Health, however, say the decision to put the lab here was based purely on the merits. It is to open Nov.11.
Dr. LeDuc acknowledged that hurricanes would disrupt research. Each time a hurricane approaches the island, scientists will have to stop their experiments and exterminate many of the viruses and bacteria they are studying.
And Hurricane Ike did not provide the worst-case test the laboratory will someday face, some critics say. Ike’s 100-m.p.h. winds were on the low side for a hurricane, yet it still flooded most of the island’s buildings. The university’s teaching hospital, on the same campus as the lab, has been shut down for more than a month.
“The University of Texas should consider locating its biohazards lab away from Galveston Island and out of harm’s way,” Ken Kramer, director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, said. “As destructive as it was, Hurricane Ike was only a Category 2 storm. A more powerful storm would pose an even greater threat of a biohazards release.”
The laboratory is one of two the Bush administration pushed after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The second is being built at Boston University Medical Center, where it met stiff community resistance.
Not so in Texas, where there was hardly a whimper of protest. For starters, the University of Texas Medical Branch is one of the largest employers on the island of 57,000 people.
In addition, the leaders of the medical school skillfully sold community leaders and politicians on the high-tech safety measures at the lab and on the economic boon to Galveston, an impoverished town in need of the 300 jobs the laboratory would bring.
University leaders met twice a month with community leaders for several years to dispel fears of pathogens escaping. Then they created a permanent advisory committee of residents that included some of their critics.
The campaign to win over residents was effective. In 2004, the university built a small laboratory and won federal approval to study extremely lethal pathogens there. The smaller laboratory — named for Dr. Robert E. Shope, a virus expert — helped persuade federal officials it was feasible to erect the national laboratory next to it.
Nonetheless, some community members remain skeptical about the safety measures.
“It is not a geographically good location, and the safety measures are only as good as the people who work there,” said Jackie Cole, a former City Council member who now serves on a citizen’s advisory board for the laboratory.
Other environmentalists who might have fought the project were bogged down in a battle against a liquid natural gas plant that was to be built in Texas City, a refinery town across a narrow channel from the island.
“It kind of went under the radar,” said Bob Stokes, who heads the Galveston Bay Foundation, a group dedicated to cleaning up water pollution.
Dr. LeDuc and other scientists at the laboratory say it is almost impossible for diseases to escape. The air pressure in the laboratories is kept lower than in surrounding hallways. Even if the double doors into the laboratories are opened accidentally, air rushes in, carrying pathogens up and away through vents to special filters, which are periodically sterilized with formaldehyde and then incinerated.
All the laboratory tables have hoods that suck contaminated air through the vents to the filters, as do the rooms themselves. Liquid waste, feces and urine go to tanks on the first floor, where it is heated to a temperature at which nothing can survive before being put into the sewage system.
Other waste — carcasses of laboratory animals and disposable lab equipment — is sterilized in autoclaves, giant steam-pressure cookers, before being incinerated off site, Dr. LeDuc said.
When hurricanes threaten the island, researchers will shut down their experiments at least 24 hours before landfall, decontaminate the labs and then move the stocks of deadly pathogens into freezers on upper floors, where they are kept at 70 below zero, Dr. Joan Nichols, an associate director of research, said.
Even if the emergency power system were to fail, the freezers can keep the samples of killer diseases dormant for about four days, she said.
The precautions are necessary. The laboratory will do research into some of the nastiest diseases on the planet, among them Ebola, anthrax, tularemia, West Nile virus, drug-resistant tuberculosis, bubonic plague, avian influenza and typhus.
In the top-level secure laboratories, where deadly filoviruses like Ebola are studied, the scientists work in pressurized spacesuits inside rooms with airtight steel doors. Before leaving the secured area, they take a chemical shower for eight minutes in their suits, then a conventional shower, Dr. LeDuc said.
The university’s bid for the laboratory benefited from friends in Washington. Mr. DeLay, who resigned from Congress in 2006, pushed hard to bring the project to his district, as did Mrs. Hutchison, who sits on the Appropriations Committee.
On a visit to Galveston with Mr. Delay in 2005, Mr. Bush said: “This hospital is going to be the Texas center for bioshield research, to help us make sure that our country is well prepared as we engage in the war on terror. No better place, by the way, to do substantial research than right here at the University of Texas.”
Galveston’s medical school has long had a top-notch faculty in infectious diseases; the school’s proposal beat out bids from the University of California, Davis, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Wadsworth Center in Albany, among others.
Dr. Rona Hirschberg, a senior program officer at the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, an agency of the National Institutes of Health, said politics played no role in the decision to build the lab here. The threat of hurricanes was outweighed, she said, by the presence of some of the best virologists in the country, she said.
“You could put it out in the middle of nowhere and it would be a safe, secure facility,” Dr. Hirschberg, a molecular biologist, said. “But the research wouldn’t get done.”
Article – http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/29/us/29lab.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all
City’s usage of pre-existing building’s now questioned.
More frustrations are headed towards the ring in in the housing of homeless using pre-existing buildings. The recent discover of mold in Plymouth Housing’s Gatewood and Fry Apartments cast a shadow of gloom across the 10YP. Even more recent testing also shows that the mixture of steam heat and hot summer temperatures cause the formation and sporation of mold. Mold cannot be readily or practically, abated or remediated. The technology is limited in this area.
The city de-emphasized the mold issues several years ago for fear of lawsuits involving public schools.
The city’s plan of using Base housing is now being examined after HU’s interview with former residents now located at Fort Ord, Fort Rucker and Fort Stewart expressed concerns because of the environmental hazards located at the pre-existing base housing-something that the DoD is quite concerned about.
Gatewood, Josephinum and Fry have the highest death rates in King County.