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NIH sued by Boston biolab foes

Group claims agency violated federal law in choosing densely populated site for new biocontainment facility

John Dudley Miller
An activist legal group filed suit against the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Thursday (May 18), claiming the agency's decision to approve building a high-security biocontainment lab in a densely populated, largely minority community around Boston's South End violates federal law.The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Boston by the Conservation Law Foundation on behalf of five black and Puerto Rican residents, claims NIH broke the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by not conducting a thorough environmental review of the site, not "taking a comprehensive, objective look at the environmental risks" to nearby residents, and not considering alternative sites. The suit claims the neighborhood meets the federal definition of an "environmental justice community," one where minority residents are overburdened by environmental hazards. It asks the court to stop all federal funding of the biolab.The biolab, called the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, has been controversial since September 2003, when...

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