Controversial lab gets federal approval

February 3, 2006 — BOSTON, Mass. — Boston University’s plan to build a research laboratory that will handle some of the world’s most dangerous pathogens in Bosto’s South End won final federal approval on Thursday.

The decision by the National Institutes of Health secures $128 million in federal funding for the lab, which will study infectious diseases such as ebola and the West Nile virus.

Construction on the 190,000-square foot National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories is scheduled to begin this month and should be finished by 2008, BU officials said.

The university estimates the new lab will create more than 650 permanent jobs and contribute nearly $3 billion to the local economy over the next twenty years.

University officials say the lab will be safe and will provide needed research into contagious illnesses and possible bioterror agents. But opponents have criticized the decision to build the lab in a densely populated urban neighborhood and charge that the NIH did not do enough to assess the impact of a possible accident. The NIH summary on the decision filed Thursday says that of the 21 scenarios considered, all supported the conclusion that the lab would pose “negligible risk to the community.”


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