Biosafety lab sued by watchdog

A nuclear watchdog group filed a federal lawsuit on Monday (March 10) to suspend work at a Biosafety Level 3 lab at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which opened to little fanfare earlier this year and conducts research on pathogens such as Ebola, anthrax and Q fever. The suit, filed by linkurl:Tri-Valley CAREs,;http://www.trivalleycares.org/pressRelease/prmar08.asp a Livermore-based community group that monitors nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup activities locally and nation

Alla Katsnelson
Mar 11, 2008
A nuclear watchdog group filed a federal lawsuit on Monday (March 10) to suspend work at a Biosafety Level 3 lab at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which opened to little fanfare earlier this year and conducts research on pathogens such as Ebola, anthrax and Q fever. The suit, filed by linkurl:Tri-Valley CAREs,;http://www.trivalleycares.org/pressRelease/prmar08.asp a Livermore-based community group that monitors nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup activities locally and nationally, charges that the Department of Energy should have conducted a full environmental impact assessment before opening the pathogen research lab, and did not hold the necessary public comment sessions. "We have agreed to a schedule for resolution of the motion for preliminary injunction in an effort to avoid the potential expense of resources to address a temporary restraining order. This agreement will also allow the court to decide the issue as expeditiously as possible. The U.S. Department of Justice will file a...
boratory, which opened to little fanfare earlier this year and conducts research on pathogens such as Ebola, anthrax and Q fever. The suit, filed by linkurl:Tri-Valley CAREs,;http://www.trivalleycares.org/pressRelease/prmar08.asp a Livermore-based community group that monitors nuclear weapons and environmental cleanup activities locally and nationally, charges that the Department of Energy should have conducted a full environmental impact assessment before opening the pathogen research lab, and did not hold the necessary public comment sessions. "We have agreed to a schedule for resolution of the motion for preliminary injunction in an effort to avoid the potential expense of resources to address a temporary restraining order. This agreement will also allow the court to decide the issue as expeditiously as possible. The U.S. Department of Justice will file a response to the lawsuit on our behalf by March 26, 2008," the DOE said in a statement Emailed to The Scientist. According to a court document Emailed to The Scientist by John Belluardo, a DOE spokesman, the lab will refrain from animal experiments, genetically modifying BSL-3 pathogens, testing aerosolized pathogens, or storing more than 100 ml of BSL-3 pathogens for 60 days, while the court reviews the motion. Marylia Kelly, the executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, said that one of the group's main concerns is that the pathogens to be studied at the lab, which are associated with bio-warfare, make the facility a potential target for terrorist attack. She also cited problems in Livermore's safety record, noting a $450,000 linkurl:fine;http://www.the-scientist.com/blog/display/54350/ the institution received last year for irregularities in shipping anthrax. Kelly added that conducting research on pathogens that could be used as bioweapons at Lawrence Livermore, which also conducts classified work on nuclear weapons, threatens enforcement of the international Biological Weapons Convention because the facility is not open to inspections. Tri-Valley CAREs first sued the DOE and Lawrence Livermore in 2003, and won a 2006 lawsuit in which the court ruled that the DOE must re-examine the threat of terrorist attack on the lab. The DOE concluded in that review that the lab posed no significant threat; the group contested that finding, and claims it was not made available for public comment as required by law.

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