Those wacky cost-savers in the Bush Administration are at it again . . . .
- Club Lecter
You’ve heard of Plum Island. Just think back to when you last saw “Silence of the Lambs.”
Yep, it’s where Jodie Foster floated a false offer to Anthony Hopkins to be imprisoned there and walk the white sand beaches and enjoy the wildlife – near the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.
Now, in a feat of mental legerdemain every bit as awe-inspiring as the Federal Government’s rapid response to hurricane Katrina, the Department of Homeland Security (I snicker my ass off more each day at that title . . .) is evaluating six possible sites for a new National Bio and Agro-defense Facility. Five of them are on the mainland U.S.
According to our good friends at UPI:
“The department wants to build the new lab, dubbed the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, at one of five potential mainland sites, but is also evaluating the existing site of the lab it would replace, the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center, in New York state’s Long Island Sound.
The draft Environmental Impact Statement, published Friday, is a 1,005-page federally required assessment of a range of effects the planning, construction and operation of the lab would have at each of the proposed sites.
It says the health and safety impact — including the possibility of an accidental or deliberate release of pathogens from the lab — was “negligible” at all six possible sites, because of its assessment that the risk of such a release “was none to low for all accident scenarios except an over-pressure fire,” which can cause an explosion if flammable gases build up in an enclosed space.
The risk for this kind of accident was “moderate” for all six sites.
The department also assessed the possibility of a terrorist attack releasing pathogens from the lab — which will work on the most infectious animal diseases, like Foot and Mouth; and on those most deadly to humans, like the Hendra and Nipah viruses.
The overall risk assessment for a release at the five mainland sites was “moderate” because of “the potential easy spread of a disease through livestock or wildlife” nearby, the statement said. The Plum Island site overall risk rank was “low or none” because of “the low likelihood of any disease getting off of the island,” the statement concluded.”
It seems to me – pardon my attempt at logical and rational thought here – that one would want to keep a lab dealing in major threats to livestock and humans as remote as possible. Sigourney Weaver grasped the concept quite nicely in the “Alien” movies.
And, according to the Associated Press in a story that ran about two weeks ago, federal officials ran a simulated exercise called ‘Crimson Sky’ to consider the effects of a mass foot-and-mouth disease outbreak . The ‘results’?
“Fictional riots in the streets after the simulation’s National Guardsmen were ordered to kill tens of millions of farm animals, so many that troops ran out of bullets.”
“In the exercise, the government said it would have been forced to dig a ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses.”
Following that general theme, wouldn’t it be somewhat questionable to consider just how safe putting an animal disease research laboratory in the middle of one of several major livestock centers is when the original laboratory was put out on an island away from such centers?
The only way this could get any funnier is if Halliburton were involved. They aren’t, right?