Boston University overcame two bids to prevent a downtown site from studying some of the world’s deadliest biological agents, the Boston Herald reports.
The Boston City Council on Wednesday voted down a proposal to prohibit locations in the city from carrying out “Biosafety Level 4” studies, which can involve diseases for which there are no known cures. The measure targeted the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories, a 6-year-old site where Boston University wants to conduct such research.
The chief proponent of the research ban described the council’s 8-5 decision as a letdown.
“Many other surrounding communities have banned [Biosafety] Level 4 research to protect their residents from a potential risk,” said Councilor Charles Yancey, who submitted an ordinance to prohibit the sensitive scientific efforts.
“I don’t believe that the city of Boston is prepared to deal with an emergency resulting from the release of a pathogen,” he said.
Meanwhile, a university administrator praised the council’s decision.
“At the end of the day it was the safety measures and the security of the building that carried the vote,” Michelle Consalvo, assistant vice president for government and community affairs, said in the school publication BU Today.
Also on Wednesday, a state court rejected a local challenge to a National Institutes of Health finding that the laboratory constitutes a relatively insignificant hazard to the surrounding area.
“When assessing the risk … the report assumed that in each scenario, everything that could go wrong would go wrong,” Suffolk County Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders wrote in her ruling. “It then calculated the risk that this could happen using a specific methodology.”
The laboratory must still obtain authorization from the Boston Public Health Commission to conduct Biosafety Level 4 research.
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