Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bioweapon Leaks in Texas

By Cernig

The health science blog Effect Measure takes a quick look at unpublicized accidents in Texas bioweapon labs, including two within recent months that exposed workers in University biodefense units in Houston and San Antonio to anthrax and tularemia. In both cases, the necessary paperwork and notifications were kept "under a rock" until the Sunshine Foundation forced disclosure.

Effect Measure concludes:
The biggest indictment of biodefense laboratory safety is the very thing they tout as evidence of their safety: the lack of any documentation or paperwork of the kinds of accidents that happen all the time and that we expect, even in the best run laboratories. This is an indication of lax security and an arrogant attitude. I regret to say too many of my colleagues are quick to take advantage of the easy money offered by the Bush administration terrorism obsession. It won't make public health better or improve our safety. On the contrary, the proliferation of these laboratories make us less safe.

Some research money isn't worth it. At least if our mission is genuinely public health.
The lack of public accident reports nevertheless enables laboratories at Texas universities to claim they have operated for years without a single reported incident of laboratory acquired infection or even exposure. It's kinda worrying that these things can occur and no-one gets to hear about them without some ferocious Information Act digging.

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