Kansas: what a great place to put a lab full of incredibly infectious cattle virus

When the Bush Administration awarded a construction grant to put a Level 4 laboratory in Galveston, Texas to work on the most dangerous biological agents, a lot of people, including we here at Effect Measure, thought it was pretty stupid siting. Isn't Galveston open to Gulf hurricanes? Wasn't it the site of one of the most devastating storm floods in US history? Then came Hurricane Ike. It didn't seem that a hazardous agents lab could be more stupidly sited than Galveston (see here and here). That was an error in judgement on our part.

The thing about a lot of agents used in Level 4 labs is that while they are extremely dangerous if you get infected with them (Ebola is an example), most of them aren't that contagious. There may be no cure and no vaccine for them and they may be highly virulent, but they aren't that transmissible (see our post on these terms from the other day). There are some viruses that are incredibly transmissible, however. One is foot and mouth disease (FMD). This doesn't usually infect humans but it is devastating to livestock. The US lab that researched FMD was on an island (Plum Island off of Long Island, NY). That's a good precaution, because FMD has a history of getting out of even highly secure labs and infecting livestock. One of the more likely uses of bioterrorism is economic. The US reportedly has tried to do this to destabilize Cuba. The US denies it.

When it was decided to replace Plum Island, the Bush Department of Homeland Security had an open competition for a new facility. There was no shortage of state risk takers. What better place to put it than a major beef producing state in tornado country? Oh, did I mention it's a solid Red (in the sense of Republican, not Communist) state? Kansas? Maybe Bush's Homeland Security took a good look and decided it was safe, after all:

The Department of Homeland Security used a scientifically flawed study to justify its selection of Manhattan, Kansas, as the site for the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, according to an as-yet-unpublished Government Accountability Office (GAO) report obtained by The Washington Post. The report says DHS underestimated the risks of situating the facility—for research on foot and mouth disease and other dreaded illnesses—anywhere on the mainland United States. An earlier report issued by the GAO in May raised similar issues. (Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, ScienceInsider)

The evil men do, lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones. I think that's Shakespeare. When it comes to the Bush administration, we're still looking for the good. That's me.

More like this

We've argued before that the US biodefense laboratory effort -- whose planning principle seems to be based on "more" -- was making us less safe, not more safe. Whatever else you say about the anthrax attacks, they are a perfect illustration of this. The weapon and the culprit(s) came directly from…
tags: Lab 257, Plum Island,animal disease research, USDA, West Nile virus, Lyme disease, Dutch duck plague After the recent outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the UK was shown to be the result this virus's escape from one of two nearby research labs, I thought it was timely to review a book that…
A year may not seem like a long time, but everything's relative. For Texas A&M University a year was 51 weeks too long since they were required to report potential breaches of laboratory safety protections in the federally financed biodefense lab they ran within seven days. This "failure to…
The last time we looked at the high containment laboratory in Galveston, Texas, it was directly in the path of Hurricane Ike. Flooding from Ike devastated Galveston but it was a comparatively weak storm, Category 2 on the Sumner Simpson scale. Katrina was a Cat 4. The worst storms are the huge…

I really enjoy reading this blog. I have put together a website on health reform that touches on many of the issues on this site. I would love for any or all of you to visit and both enjoy its content and let me know what you think.

The ads for all visits go to charity to fight Ulcerative Colitis too!




Thanks in advance.

Great, another Manhattan project. Like the first one, it is such a bad idea! And any activity too dangerous to conduct in the continental US is too dangerous to conduct anywhere. We know that from the nuclear weapons programs too. There's no "away".

This site's sometimes interesting information is tainted with unreasonable partisan hate of President Bush and anything Republican or conservative. Also, you seem to be anti-God. Remember, "A fool says in his heart there is no God."

Meanwhile, Obama is bankrupting the US, attempting to cripple our productivity with cap and tax, trying to implement rationed health care, and siding with Islamo-terrorists.

President Bush will go down in history as a great patriot and President.

Kay: Yes, anti-Bush and anti-Republican (but not necessarily pro Democrat). I give my reasons for being anti-Bush, at least. But not anti-God any more than I am anti-tooth fairy or anti-Lepraucan.

I hope all will forgive this posting, which is totally irrelevant to the attached article. I apologize in advance to those who may find it somehow inappropriate. In the end, however, I hope it proves of some help to any of you.

I felt I should share with those interested in laying in supplies, should it become necessary to commit to a prolonged period of home isolation, or, the possibility of interruption of basic community services (water supply; food shortages) some products Iâve come across that address the more burdensome project of water storage.

First let me say, I have absolutely no connection with the two companies Iâm about to mention. I just came across their products recommended in my latest issue of Popular Mechanics (August, 2009; page 27). These folks do a lot of testing of various products (I actually find them quite responsible in their testing of cars, tools, etc. â sort of a Consumers Report guide). Also, I just placed my orders for these items today, so I cannot personally recommend them yet. But having done so, I felt an obligation to pass these suggestions on to the flu blog community, since a lot of you folks share my concerns about personal preparation for worst-case scenarios.

The idea of buying and storing copious amounts of bottled water is enough to make one prone to ignore addressing this vital necessity. These two companies have extremely convenient, practical solutions (good pun), which, when not needed, consume no more storage space than a few items youâd bring home from the grocery store (as opposed to a whole room dedicated to water bottles â which, in itself, can raise eyebrows of visitors, reassessing the advisability of any further association with their host).

The first is the WaterBob (an acronym for Bathtub Oblong Bladder). Itâs food grade plastic, placed in your bathtub and filled with water. Standard size bathtubs hold 42 gallons. Has a siphon pump for dispensing into pitchers or bottles. For $30, thatâs a more potable approach than just filling up the tub, with its soap scum and bacterial hordes. Their website: http://www.waterbob.com/Information.do?forward=home

Add to that a simple filtered adapter that can be attached to the outlet faucet at the bottom of your hot water heater, giving you an additional 30-50 gallons of water. This may be ordered from http://aquamira.com/ . Aquamira actually services utilities and whole communities. The contact phone number on their website is to a separate company (Outdoor Ready in Utah) which serves as their distributor to individuals. For those of you who have never periodically drained your water heaters (to offload the sediment build-up), itâs important to remember to open a sink faucet in a top floor bathroom, enabling air to flow into the plumbing system, allowing free flow of water from the hot water tank outlet.

The other problem of water storage is keeping it potable. PM recommended Aquamiraâs other products that address that. They offer filter bottles and water treatment solutions. They have a pretty good PDF article on the science, manufacture and testing of water filters at http://aquamira.com/a_word_about_filter_ratings.pdf .

Their water treatment solution is chlorine dioxide, which they claim is superior to chlorine or iodine. Be sure to get their larger kit (two 2 oz bottles) for only a buck more than their kit of two 1 ounce bottles. The kits contain two bottles which must be pre-mixed prior to adding to the water. The smaller kit only treats 30 gallons. The larger one (2 oz bottles) treat up to 60 gallons


Christâs most famous parable was the parable of the Good Samaritan. He uses the parable in response to the question, âhow does one get into heaven?â

The parable tells of a man who lay dying by the side of the road. Two high priests (religious men of the time) walked past the poor man, offering him no assistance. But a Samaritan (Samaritans were the âreligious hereticsâ of the time) helped the sickly traveler, brought him to his home, and nursed him back to health.

Christâs view of the whole âKingdom of Godâ thing was that it was reserved for âgoodâ people, not âGodâ people.

While some choose to spend their time and energy worrying about who does and who does not meet their particular definition of Godliness, others, like Revere, dedicate their lives to helping their fellow man. Revere embodies what is meant by being a good neighbor.

So, if you envision yourself with wings and a white robe downing a beer with George Bush in an afterlife, I am happy for you. All I know, is that if I wake from death only to see George Bushâs face--heaven is not where I will think I have landed.

Um, where is this Boston facility? ::hyperventilates::

By Uncle Glenny (not verified) on 29 Jul 2009 #permalink

Uncle Glenny: I am told construction in Boston is complete but there are still hurdles to jump before it can even begin shakedown testing. Maybe someone else has more up to date info? Local opposition remains very strong.

You do realize that Kansas has a democrat governor, and their former democrat governor is Kathleen Sebelius, who is now Secretary of HHS (or did they rename that position...can't remember). Kansas State is an excellent research institution, so locating this facility there in Manhattan makes plenty of sense. As long as they build the facility to withstand tornadoes, it shouldn't be any worse than anywhere else.

By military wife (not verified) on 29 Jul 2009 #permalink

Aw WTF they aint going to be able to pay for the damned thing anyways. If the auction goes badly tomorrow then all that additional spending is on hold because the government isnt going to be able to tap any more money wells. The Chinese have told them flat out...Stop ...Or ELSE. The else is that THEY will dump our bonds for whatever they can get for them. Flood the markets and then we are on financial disaster #2. This one would last probably 20 years.

We are paying them back in paper bills for debts incurred as....Paper bills. The auctions that I said back in February were going to go badly are now about to turn the Obama spendathon into a house of cards. The Chinese want OUT and they will come up with a new reserve currency because of the actions of Obama. Spend, spend, spend right up until the end.

They want tangibles and they are now sending the metals through the roof because they are something you can trade in. Obama has a month. Stop spending or find a new revenue source. Cant tax any more, cant cash flow it with that bullshit non-health care bill. Maybe a complete pullout of the Middle East and then the Israelis launch pre-emptively. Remember, you got to be able to pay for a war just like healthcare. No bucks, no Buck Rogers.

So whats going to happen?

Maybe the Democratic Party shatters itself. Not something that I'd like to see, but it might. Obama could be staring down the barrel of a Republican Congress gun come November 2010. He is in deep shit and he knows it. Everyone wants the spending to stop. The majority of the people both Rep and Dem want this to end NOW. It may have already been forced as an issue.

Obama? Done in one...... Fret not conservatives because Obama is going to be their goat for all of their ills and living wills for both parties. Maybe they will out him so Hillary can get in there with a fighting chance in a year for the run.


Back to bugs...

As for the facility Revere, I think I understood this to be an UNDERGROUND facility in a large part. Pretty dry there most of the time. I didnt disagree at all with Galveston... Thats like screwing for chastity. Tennessee removed itself because it couldnt be assured that it was going to be safe due to the suggested design. Seismically active along the Appalachians. Very much lately at that. The idea was for a mostly below ground facility because of terrorism. Shit, I want it underground with a nice little 1 megaton tactical nuke just below that with a containment shield in place, no matter where it goes. Just in case.

Miss. was another good place. It was outside of the river flood areas, tornadoes sure, but the random chances of you being hit in a given year are astronomically small.


But, wind damage can occur anywhere anytime and in clear air at that. How do we make contingencies against those 60 mph clear air cyclones that crop up in the summer and winter when its dry in Kansas? I dunno, get back to me on that.

Again though the idea of Kansas is like Mississippi in that they dont supposedly have any brains to draw from like those five colleges within 200 miles that all have agricultural/bio and human research facilities. Most would have been within an hours drive to and from the schools. But thats just me. Next thing you know some damned ex-Russian bio weapons master would have had a Southern drawl. Now we just cant have that either... It has to be in a central state... to be fair. Above all any jobs created are going to be created in Democrat states. Even though the drift patterns would take St. Louis, Kansas City, Chicago, Indianapolis and beyond. But again.. Thats just me.

Kansas? Democrats, Sebilius. Remember she was the one bitching on the news in a loud and vocal way about not having any trucks on the National Guard bases because they were in Iraq when the tornadoes hit two years ago. Remember? Then it came to light that they hadnt even requested trucks in their federalization requests. They asked for comm gear instead. Aw shucks.

Typical Democrat. If you cant make up for your own shortcomings, blame the Republicans. Also, make sure that someone pays for a lab that we dont even need. Now there's the real Oak Ridge. I would have put it at Seabrook NH myself. Ground is already screwed for the next 50,000 years due to half life. Whats a bit more going to do? Anything happens its another 2000 miles to the next population center over the sea.

Kansas and terrorists? Not many, not many people to hit. Thats totally okay with me because we have the Bamster in charge. I feel MUCH safer with him than Bush.


By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 29 Jul 2009 #permalink

When they made this decision, I commented to friends that this makes as much sense as a) locating the CDC in a major city and b) performing monkey infections with small pox at the CDC in Atlanta.

Wow, checked out the WaterBob and it's now just 20 dollars plus reasonable shipping (5 dollars). I live in Houston, in a dinky apartment... not enough space for a water barrel. One for me, thanks. :)

For refills, we get enough rain during hurricane season that using the tied-and-weighted-sheet method will probably do fine for me, with the excellent filter I already have.

By speedwell (not verified) on 30 Jul 2009 #permalink

It's disappointing to see that so many of the comments are centered around politics ... if President Obama (whom I enthusiastically voted for), in his infinite wisdom, made the decision to put such a facility in Kansas -- where I reside -- I would still deem it stupid.

Wake up, people.