The Newsroom    Published Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2006, 10:47 AM
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Terrorism labs pose safety concerns

Lexington Herald-Leader (Internet / Print) 02/22/06 http://www.kentucky.com/mld/kentucky/news/13930232.htm "If you want to learn how to take these viruses apart and put them back together ... and develop a vaccine against them, it really requires this kind of spacesuit laboratory," said Tom Curtis, director of research communications at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. While the research may be necessary, it's often difficult for community groups to get straight answers to their questions about the labs. As for the potential for a terrorist incident at a lab, that hasn't been a serious concern for Robert Mihovil, who lives just blocks away from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. "I think it would be a whole lot more dangerous to be living next to (refineries in) Texas City or Pasadena than it would be to live next to a BSL-4 facility in the heart of UTMB," Mihovil said. The microbes studied at UTMB "are fairly wimpy little bugs" that cannot survive in sunlight, said Curtis, the research spokesman there. "Everybody is horrified at what they can do, but the truth is the research quantities we're studying are quite modest," Curtis said. "And if the building they're in got hit by a bomb or an airplane or a tornado or something like that," they're easily killed.



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