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Animal lab inquiry

Problems persist at biocontainment research facility on Plum Island

John Dudley Miller(johnmiller@nasw.org)

Confirming continuing congressional allegations, a General Accounting Office (GAO) report says that until June of this year, security at the nation's top laboratory for deadly animal diseases was dangerously lax. Although many improvements have since been made, the lab's acting director admits that security is still not as tight as it needs to be.

"This report is not just a wake-up call; it's a blaring alarm," said Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY), a persistent critic whose district includes the Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

The island facility, just northeast of Long Island, NY, and 12 miles southeast of New London, Conn., was operated by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) until June 2003, when the new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) took it over. The GAO investigation began in November 2002 and continued until September 19, 2003, when the report was completed.

In a late August 2003 letter included in the...

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