No NBAF in Kansas

Real Biosecurity for the Heartland

Archive for September, 2008

Is a Germ Lab a Good Neighbor?

Posted by tmanney on September 19, 2008

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

National Coalition Joined in Statement on Biodefense Program

Posted by tmanney on September 17, 2008

PRESS RELEASE – For immediate release

No NBAF in Kansas

P.O. Box 703
Manhattan, KS 66505-0703

September 18, 2008


CONTACT:             Tom Manney, Chair

                             Tel. 785-537-0624            

 National Coalition Issues Statement on Biodefense Program

Concerned citizen groups in 7 states, affected by 8 potential or existing federally-funded high containment “biodefense” labs have issued a joint statement expressing specific, local health, safety and environmental concerns about these labs existing in their midst.   Two current and one former candidate NBAF sites, including Manhattan, Kansas are among them.  The statement is being distributed to appropriate congressional oversight committees, and national and local media in the represented areas. 


Statement on the U.S. Biodefense Program

from Communities Living in its Shadow 

We, the undersigned, face the reality or prospect of federally-funded high containment “biodefense” labs being built and operated in our communities.  We all have specific, local health, safety and environmental concerns about these labs existing in our midst.  We represent citizen groups from around the U.S., united in our belief that the massive proliferation of “biodefense” laboratories creates a significant threat not just to our communities, but also to our nation, and to our world.  We join Biological Weapons Convention non-proliferation experts in concluding that we risk creating a biowarfare arms race with those who do not trust and cannot verify our intentions.  The proliferation of these labs makes us all less safe.

Since the August 2008 revelations about the 2001 anthrax letters originating from within the premier U.S. “biodefense” lab, it has become tragically clear that Congress must move quickly to investigate the nation’s “biodefense” programs. 

We have many concerns about the proliferation of bio-safety level 3 and 4 laboratories in federal complexes, and in the hundreds of poorly regulated academic and private sector laboratories around the country.  

·      In each of our communities, we have found that environmental impacts and hazards associated with these labs have not been analyzed with thoroughness, clarity and scientific rigor.  It is not possible to mitigate unacknowledged risks.  

·      Our experience is that State and local governments have not been well integrated into lab planning and operations.  

·      We are concerned about the threats associated with genetically modified pathogens and dual-use research.   

·      We are most concerned about supposedly low-probability” but “high-consequence” accidents that could result in a public health disaster. 

·      Now we also know that the possibility of internal sabotage is quite real.  We have been told officially that both the “weaponized” anthrax and the perpetrator of the only bio-terror attack in our history came from within the U.S. “biodefense” program.  

·      We are sobered by the fact that since the anthrax letter attacks, the number of workers in these labs has grown from a small number to over 16,000;  laboratory space has grown tenfold.   

·      Numerous laboratory accidents have been reported.  It is plain that many others go unreported, as demonstrated by the unreported accidents discovered by non-governmental watchdog groups.  

·      It has become clear that laboratory regulation and oversight are poor.   

·      Transparency has been lacking.  

·      The GAO and others, such as the Sunshine Project, report that safety programs and protocols are inadequate and have not been followed with consistency and rigor.  

Since 2001, “biodefense” funding has provided a $57 billion economic boon, much of it for the private sector.  “Biodefense” programs are spread among many federal departments, but are frequently duplicative and poorly coordinated.  We have seen no evidence of an integrated federal policy, still less one openly debated by Congress.   

Congress must investigate current research and development priorities, funding levels and research requirements in relation to verifiable threats to human and livestock health.   Our country needs a fact-based assessment of biological threats, both natural and man-made.  

 In 2005, more than 750 scientists, including Nobel Prize-winners, decried the diversion of funds to “biodefense” programs away from vital and pressing human health research of broad applicability.  

 We are aware that intense debate is taking place within the scientific community about whether or not much of the new “biodefense” research is relevant to or would be effective in protecting the population against a biological attack.  At the same time, funding has been cut for local preparedness against potential natural or lab-generated outbreaks.   These issues are equally present in the debates taking place about the enormous high-containment agricultural research laboratory complexes proposed for some of our communities. 

 The size and research agenda of the U.S. “biodefense” program has become out of control in the wake of the 2001 anthrax letters.  Who decided it was an acceptable risk to genetically re-create and work with the formerly extinct 1918 flu virus, no matter how interesting that research may be?  There are far too many comparable examples.  

We need a national moratorium on “biodefense” research and, simultaneously, a serious and transparent reevaluation of the big picture.  We need a great many more answers before our government pours yet more money into these programs and creates new public health risks and international strain.

Consistent with standard procedures for other federal science programs that pose potential threats to health and safety, we call upon our elected representatives to:

 ·      Conduct a thorough independent investigation of the executive policies that have driven the unprecedented expansion of “biodefense” research and development since 2001; and 

·      Call  an immediate halt to development of new “biodefense” facilities and an operational stand-down of existing programs until the many serious questions have been resolved,  including those related to:

       public safety, 

       biosafety and biosurety compliance,

       laboratory regulation,

       research focus,

       select agent use and control, 

       dual-use research,

       a right-sized program and

       appropriate locations for high containment laboratories.  

Signed September 17, 2008:





Boston Coalition to Stop the BioTerror Lab

Boston University, NEIDL;  BSL-4 and BSL-3 Labs (NIH)

Boston, MA


Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University, Grafton, MA

BSL-3 labs, BSL-4 ready


Frederick Citizens for Bio-lab Safety

National Interagency Biodefense Campus, Fort Detrick;  BSL-4 and BSL-3 labs (USAMRIID, DHS, NIH)  Frederick, MD


Granville Non-Violent Action Team (GNAT)


NBAF, proposed site at Butner, North Carolina; BSL-4 and BSL-3 labs (DHS)

No NBAF in Kansas

NBAF, proposed site at Manhattan, Kansas, at Kansas State University; BSL-4 and BSL-3 labs (DHS)

Mid-Missouri Branch of WILPF,  (No NABAF in Columbia, MO)

University of MO, BSL-3 lab;  and formerly proposed site for NBAF, Columbia, MO  (NIH)

Tri-Valley Cares

BSL-3 facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Livermore, CA (DHS)

Labwatch – Seattle, WA


WWAMI Regional Center of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Disease, Seattle, Washington, BSL-3 labs (NIH)


Posted in >Accidents, >Accountability, >National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF), >Oversight, >Proliferation, >Risks, >Transparency, Do Something! | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

The Bigger Picture of Biosecurity

Posted by tmanney on September 11, 2008

Understanding Biodefense, Bioweapons Research

An Interview with Edward Hammond, Director of the U.S. Office of The Sunshine Project, an organization focusing on oversight of research involving biological weapons agents.

Sunshine Project Website: As of 1 February 2008, the Sunshine Project suspended its operations. Although their website is no longer updated, it remains online as an archive of their activities and publications from 2000 through 2008.


Sunshine Project: Welcome

Posted in >Accidents, >Accountability, >Department of Homeland Security (DHS), >Government Accountability Office (GAO), >National Bio and Agro Defense Facility (NBAF), >Plum island Laboratory, >Proliferation, Fact Check, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on The Bigger Picture of Biosecurity

Who wants this thing anyway?

Posted by Dale on September 5, 2008

It is hard to sit through hours of public commentary on a draft environmental impact statement, as I learned back in July when the DHS road show came to town. It’s even harder when most of the people speaking are just spouting boosterish rah-rah rhetoric.

To stave off boredom, I decided to keep a tally sheet, counting the number of speakers for and against. I also counted how many on each side were local and how they were dressed. The numbers should not be terribly surprising:

  • Speakers in favor: 32
  • Speakers opposed: 10

Of the 32 for:

  • From elsewhere: 19
  • Local: 13

The 32 for were dressed:

  • Suits: 31
  • Casual: 1

Of the 10 against, seven were local and nine of ten were dressed casually. From this casual sample (this was the afternoon session), I would draw the following conclusions. Large business interests from other Kansas cities want to make money, and the fact that they wear suits means they probably have an office job in a tower somewhere. People opposed nearly always come from the area (the three who were not local all live within 30-40 miles and own animals) and tend not to wear suits when they have something important to say.

Do we really want a facility that a bunch of suit-wearing CEOs and professional lobbyists think is a swell idea? When has that ever been a good idea?

I would also conclude from these numbers that the claim that this process has gone on largely under the radar is a correct assumption. Clearly, business interests have been contacted and made part of the process, but average citizens are still pretty much in the dark about what’s going on and their right to speak up. It was also not lost on me that the comment sessions were held in a K-State facility; even worse, a facility that has no proximal parking whatsoever. This was not coincidental, and amounts to bad faith or perhaps even an attempt at intimidation on the part of one of the NBAF’s biggest boosters, namely, the K-State administration. What employee in their right mind other than a tenured faculty member would stand in a university room and speak against the powers that be?

Posted in Uncategorized | 19 Comments »

Planning Update — Sept. 3, 2008

Posted by tmanney on September 3, 2008

Now that the open comment period for the Draft EIS has ended and we have had a chance to catch our individual and collective breaths, we have started planning the next steps.  The consensus seems to be that now is a time for continuing self-education, public information, lobbying, and politics. Events on the horizon include the following:

Town Hall meeting to be hosted by the Manhattan City Commission and Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy.  This will be this Sunday, Sept. 7 at 3:30 pm in the lecture hall at the Fire Department Headquarters, 2000 Denison Ave.  We would like to use this as an opportunity to query the Commissioners about implications for the City of Manhattan of the NBAF coming here.  In particular, what demands would be placed on our infrastructure — power, water, sewage treatment — and what would be the tax burden?  

The No NBAF in Kansas T-shirts are available now.  Contact Debbie Nuss at 537-7519 or The Town Hall meeting will provide an opportunity to introduce our T-shirts to the community

In view of the major publicity effort and expenditure by the proponents to discredit our opposition through the press and full-page advertising, it is important for us to continue our own letters to the editor.  If we can attract some additional donations, we can also purchase some modest advertisements.  You may send checks to No NBAF in Kansas at PO Box 0703, Manhattan, KS 66505.  To date we have run ads in The Manhattan Mercury,  High Plains Journal, Grass and Grain, and The Free Press.  So far, we have received about 20 donations totaling about $1500, with a balance of about $380.

We plan to hold another public meeting within the next week or two.  In the meantime it is important that we keep each other informed by e-mail, and especially by telephone for those without e-mail.  Please pass this information along.  We are organizing a telephone tree to be sure we get the message to everyone. 

You may reply to this entire list or to individuals with your suggestions, ideas or comments and ways you would like to help.  In particular, please let us know if you want to be included in our planning sessions. This has been a variable group based primarily on willingness and availability to meet on short notice. Everyone is welcome as long as we keep the meetings small enough to be workable and fit around someone’s dining table.

We will be posting more detailed information on the blog site:

Tom Manney, Chair


Posted in Do Something!, Facts & Definitions | Comments Off on Planning Update — Sept. 3, 2008

Town Hall Meeting with Manhattan City Council this Sunday

Posted by tmanney on September 3, 2008

Town Hall Meeting
The City Commission, in partnership with the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy at Kansas State University, is hosting a town hall meeting on Sunday, September 7, 2008, in the Lecture Hall at Fire Station Headquarters, 2000 Denison Avenue, Manhattan, Kansas. The meeting will begin at 3:30 p.m. and is expected to conclude by 5:30 p.m. Immediately following the town hall meeting, Commissioners will be available to meet informally with individuals or small groups until 6:00 p.m.The town hall meeting format will allow citizens additional access to their City Commissioners in a setting that encourages open communication and dialogue about policy issues facing the community. Attendees will be invited to address questions and concerns directly to the City Commission. A set of ground rules, including reasonable time limits and standards for decorum, will be utilized to ensure that all participants have an opportunity to be heard. 

The meeting will be moderated by David Procter, Director of the Center for Engagement and Community Development at Kansas State University. Procter has extensive experience in facilitating community discussions. He has worked in partnership with communities across the state of Kansas on community issues ranging from planning to small town sustainability. Procter states that, “our institute is very pleased to partner with the City Commission to improve the dialogue between Manhattan citizens and their elected officials.”


Posted in Do Something! | Tagged: | Comments Off on Town Hall Meeting with Manhattan City Council this Sunday

What Should We Ask the Manhattan City Commission?

Posted by tmanney on September 3, 2008

We are told that the Commissioners have been asked to write individual letters of support for the NBAF so it seems timely for them to be sharing what has motivated their positions, what they understand to be the risks that go along with the benefits, and what it is going to cost Manhattan taxpayers.

Please share YOUR questions for the Commissioners by adding them as comments to this post by clicking on comment >> on the line below.  Then, if you can, attend the Town Hall meeting (above) and ask them in person and in public.

Posted in Do Something!, Facts & Definitions | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »