NEWS FROM THE TEXAS BIODEFENSE ALLIANCE

(16 September - Tuesday)


EMERGENCY POWER RESTORED AT
THE UTMB GALVESTON TERROR LABS


According to officials at the UTMB, the University of Terror Mongering near Baytown, emergency power has been restored to its BSL-4 terror labs following a direct hit by the Category Two Hurricane Ike on Galveston Island.


That ostensibly positive news is where the questions begin.


  1. Why did it apparently take several days to restore emergency power to the BSL-4s, and how long would it have taken if Ike had been a category 3, 4, or even 5 storm? This is, after all, one of the three most dangerous disease agent collections in the United States.

  2. What building systems are kept online by emergency power?  Does the emergency system keep disease samples in the BSL-3 and BSL-4 labs frozen and is it capable of maintaining negative air pressure in the BSL-3/4 zones (and powering the BSL-4 “space suit” air supply systems) ?

  3. UTMB has brought tens of thousands of pounds of dry ice onto the island to maintain samples frozen.  If any of this dry ice is destined for BSL-3 and/or BSL-4 labs, can the freezer packs be replenished safely?  That is, without loss of negative pressure and without other issues, e.g. carbon dioxide buildup in sealed places.

  4. What is the actual status of the so-called “Galveston National Lab” BSL-4 terror facility?  UTMB’s web site last reported on it several days ago and stated that it is intact “as far as we can see”, suggesting only an exterior appraisal has been performed.

  5. What is the status of the Keiller Building, which contains a BSL-4 lab (the “Shope Lab”), and whose basement was flooded? What building and labs systems were compromised by the flooding, and did water intrude into higher stories?

  6. How many experiments were prematurely terminated due to Ike, how many animals sacrificed, and what was the cost of these experiments to taxpayers? If an emergency hurricane shutdown like this is necessary once a year or more, what are the impacts on the scientific and fiscal efficiency of the labs?

  7. What are the direct costs of this shutdown and recovery effort of the terror labs?