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Bostons South End to host bioterrorism lab

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South End to host bioterrorism labs

By Jennifer Heldt Powell

Boston Herald

A federal bioterrorism lab won yesterday by Boston University Medical Center promises to bring 660 permanent jobs to the city and $1.7 billion in economic benefits over the next two decades, officials said.

The top-level security biosafety laboratory also will put the region on the front lines of the war against terrorism, project and city leaders said yesterday. But the lab, which is expected to handle deadly biological agents, will be located in the South End, near Interstate 93's Massachusetts Avenue ramps, sparking neighborhood concerns over potential health threats.

BU Medical Center, offering one of two proposals that won, will get a $120 million federal grant to build a National Biocontainment Laboratory to study such bioterrorism agents as anthrax and smallpox. The University of Texas at Galveston also won $120 million to build a lab.

``This laboratory will develop diagnostic products and vaccines to protect people in the United States and all over the world against bioterrorism,'' said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino about the BU Medical Center project.

At the same time, the lab will generate ``unprecedented economic growth,'' he said......

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Good news on the jobs, many of which hopefully will be high paying. Bad news on the reality of the world we live in that we need these new facilities.

Also good news for Galveston.

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Yes, sadly that's true. Fortunately, it will also create construction jobs as the Big Dig winds down and jobs will be ending.

This structure is going in off Albany Street near the South End/ Roxbury line and will help create the mayors vision of extending the Longwood Medical and Academic Area, east into areas of the city with larger tracts of developable land near I-93.

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Any other plans for development near the site? It's probably a little earlier for the place to take off, but things tend to have a snow ball effect when redeveloping.

I can't say I'm overly familiar with the area this is being built in, although I'm sure if I saw it I'd like - oh ok.

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Boston Globe Article

At bioterror labs, a high-risk habitat

By Stephen Smith, Globe Staff, 10/11/2003

SAN ANTONIO -- Just to get to work, scientist Ricardo Carrion Jr. must venture through three security checkpoints, don a head-to-toe vinyl suit as bright as the spring sky, and get through two submarine-style doors.

Only then does he lumber into the sterile room that houses the world's deadliest microscopic killers, behind 12-inch-thick slabs of concrete and bulletproof glass. There, inside a Biosafety Level 4 lab, the same kind of research center destined to rise in Boston's South End, his gloved hands work gingerly with viruses that cause Ebola, Lassa fever, and SARS.

"Unless I accidentally jab myself in the finger and infect myself with something, I feel perfectly safe," said Carrion, who specializes in virology at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, one of just three institutes in the nation with operational, full-scale Level 4 labs.

Safety concerns are at the heart of opposition to the high-security lab scheduled to open at Boston University Medical Center in October 2007. Foes of the facility say it will imperil a congested urban corridor that rings the university's medical school campus. They imagine worst-case scenarios in which, through accident or terrorism, an agent such as pneumonic plague would be unleashed into the air, causing an epidemic of respiratory failure, shock, and sudden death.

But decades of experience with Level 4 labs shows that the greatest risk resides with the researchers who handle needles that can jab and animals that can bite. Dangerous viruses and bacteria have never escaped from one of the high-security labs into surrounding communities, federal health agencies say. Scientists, however, have come perilously close to being exposed....

The rest of the Boston Globe Article

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