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Study on safety of proposed BU biolab didn’t examine terror risk

IN ITS Jan. 7 editorial “BU biolab’s passing grade on risk evaluation should reassure skeptics,” the Globe seems to be satisfied with the assurances from National Institutes of Health scientists that the Boston University biolab on Albany Street in the South End does not pose a significant danger to the community. Furthermore, the Globe is much too willing to dismiss the concerns of neighbors, like me, who strongly oppose the plans to permit research on dangerous biological agents.

Although reasonable and sufficient safeguards may be in place to avert an accidental catastrophe, the risk of criminal or terrorist threats was not adequately addressed in the NIH analysis. According to the NIH report, “Malevolent acts were not considered. . . because the potential number of scenarios is limitless and the likelihood of attack is unknowable.”

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Indeed, no one can say with any degree of certainty whether the proposed research activities will be irresistibly attractive to intruders or insiders wishing to create havoc by releasing pathogens into a highly congested area.

BU scientists may wish to experiment with hazardous biological agents, but they shouldn’t experiment with the safety and well-being of the millions who live or work in the surrounding area.

James Alan Fox

Boston

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