Monday, January 08, 2007

Labwatch End of Year Update

As 2006 comes to a close and we begin 2007, it appears that Seattle
will never have to worry about a shortage of BSL-3 labs in our

As of this writing and yet to be added to the map are
a total of six more labs. Three are already existing labs, two that are
under construction and one additional already existing lab that needs
to be confirmed. The three already existing labs are Zymogenetics in
SLU, the Western Fisheries Research Center at Magnuson Park, and
the Roosevelt Commons on the 4300 block of Roosevelt Ave. In
addition, there are two being built in SLU, one at 815 Mercer by Paul
Allen for the UW and another being built on Mercer by a private
corporation. The final holdout is the newly acquired Childrens
facility at 1900 9th Ave.

Back in May we reported that a BSL-3 lab at UW had been shut
down due to faulty air circulation and that early estimates were
$1 million in repairs before it would be back up and running.
Current estimates are over $1.8 M with no report yet on when
the lab will be functional again.

Also in May we reported that more than half-a-dozen UW
scientists working at a new lab on Mercer had "initiated their
studies without getting final approval and without having the
appropriate biosafety cabinets, the appropriate rooms, the
appropriate education, the appropriate paperwork on file and
without the appropriate waste stream". What we didn’t know
then but have since found out is that the UW never reported
these violations to any State or Federal authorities even
though the chair of their Biosafety Committee was calling for
just that. So much for institutional oversight.

And finally it appears that the most dangerous aspects of the
1918 influenza experiments the UW planned for the Western
Ave. Primate Center have for the time being been moved to a
community less demanding of citizen oversight. Several
internal emails indicate Michael Katze was unhappy with the
slow progress of the upgrade at the Western Ave. facility
and has found a new home for that work at the Battelle labs
in Ohio. It should be noted that earlier this week the Dept.
of Homeland Security announced that Battelle will be
running the new Biodefense Analysis Center at Fort Detrick.
Score another one for the military contractors.

And on that happy note, looking forward to a more
democratic and active year in 2007!


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