BREAKING NEWS (12 September - Friday)

Rain on UTMB’s opening day parade?

Here at the Biodefense Barbeque, we tip our hats to the visionaries in Washington and at the University of Texas System that decided to put a huge lab handling the most dangerous and exotic diseases in the world on a barrier island known for periodically being cataclysmically obliterated by hurricanes. Maybe they were taking George Bush’s rhetoric denying global warming a little more seriously than prudent planners would.

Sure, the press relations hacks at UTMB (The University of Terror Marketing near Baytown) will say their building can withstand anything, and that a few valiant staffers will remain to brave Hurricane Ike, like captains on the bridge of a sinking ship.  (The rest of the city of Galveston is subject to mandatory evacuation.)

But every idol falls, and UTMB’s existing BSL-4 and about to open mongo BSL-4 lab, idols raised to the demented post-2001 Bush administration biodefense policies, are no exception. While we can hope that UTMB’s terror labs will die a natural death, the possibility of them sinking beneath the waves and potentially even setting loose their deadly contents is too real. 

And it’s a pointless threat.  The US didn’t need UTMB’s labs to begin with - and especially not at a place where they stand a significant chance of being blown apart and/or left in a lawless state every hurricane season.

Even if one supposes, for the sake of argument, that UTMB’s BSL-4 labs are doing useful work, does it make sense to put them in a place where they have to be completely shut down and evacuated down a time or two every summer and fall?

The Biodefense BBQ hears that UTMB is (was?) planning a press rodeo related to its “99% complete” massive national BSL-4 terror lab next week. Even if Hurricane Ike leaves Galveston unscathed, its huge shadow of the potential for hurricane destruction looks like rain on UTMB’s opening day parade.