Federal officials are still stumbling in their efforts to analyze the risks of operating a high-security biology lab in Boston that would study dangerous pathogens such as Ebola virus and anthrax, says the National Research Council (NRC).
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded the $128 million lab to Boston University in 2003; the building is complete but not yet operating. But the university's plan to use part of the building to study the deadliest pathogens in biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) facilities has drawn fierce opposition from the local community. An NRC panel stoked those concerns in 2007 when it panned NIH's risk assessment. NIH started over.
But in a report released today, the same NRC panel says it "cannot endorse as scientifically and technically sound the illustrative analyses presented" by contractors conducting the new assessment.