Ex-News lets in token critic

What a chuckle I got this morning, seeing a column in the Express-News written in opposition to the siting of Homeland Security's germ lab here.

I've been supremely critical of the paper's smalltown chamber of commerce functioning on this issue. Consider their coverage and you can't help but conclude, the editorial content has been spun - if not to sell the lab to SA - at least to keep a lid on the criticism.

I know our struggling environmental community is short on staff and/or volunteers on all perceptibly non-Edwards Aquifer issues, but finally mustering an opposition column one month before the expected federal announcement likely to name SA as germland territory? Well, suffice to say, it's a little late in the game. Benefit of the doubt: maybe this is the first that the paper has let slip in.

Where was everyone at the first public hearing (9/11, '07) when the only one speaking in opposition was a local high school student?

So is the editorial a post-victory friendship offering? For what danger does an anti- offering portend for the bio-boosters at this stage?

I truly hope that if SA is named, a late-stage movement can be mustered to get Congress to double the funding to bury that thing underground.

Lo, and behold, Klar's column is actually racking up the comments.

From the Ex-News today:

San Antonio residents need to take a serious look at our city's pursuit of a potentially hazardous Level-4 biodefense lab at the Texas Research Park near Sea World.

We are one of five cities still under consideration by the Department of Homeland Security as the location for this $450 million facility. Several communities in other states being considered have expressed opposition to the lab due to overwhelming evidence that potential health risks to the environment outweigh the economic benefit this Level-4 biodefense lab would bring to their communities.

The current biodefense lab is located on an isolated island several miles away from the mainland in New York State and for good reason. It has had a troubling record of leaks and security breaches since it opened in 1954.

Over the years, OSHA has cited this lab and EPA for over a hundred safety violations, yet it continues to operate under poor security and work conditions. These breaches included an outbreak of foot and mouth disease that resulted in the destruction of hundreds of farm animals at the facility to limit further spread of disease. Public records also show other similar secured infectious disease labs located throughout the nation and around the world have had major leaks and security breaches.

Homeland Security officials as well as experts in the field of infectious disease research contend that the facility will boost the local economy and that it will be “leak proof” and completely safe. Numerous San Antonio citizens and organizations are questioning the validity of these promises.

Potential adverse health risks outweigh the economic benefits of this Level-4 biodefense lab since it would be located near the recharge zone of the Edwards Aquifer and near large concentrations of livestock and humans. Also, in June, Homeland Security released a draft statement indicating our region could surpass $4 billion in economic losses if an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease occurred.

Read the full column.


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