Federal judge OKs Boston U disease research labAP , Associated Press
Oct. 2, 2013 10:42 AM ET
BOSTON (AP) — A Boston University laboratory built to study some of the world's most dangerous diseases is one step closer to opening following a federal judge's decision issued this week that it poses little risk to the public.
The lab has been opposed by environmentalists and residents of the city's South End neighborhood for years, who say the lab that will study Ebola, plague and other highly infectious diseases should not have been built in such a densely populated area because of the potential health risk.
But Judge Patti Saris wrote in her decision that risk from the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory is "extremely low or beyond reasonably foreseeable." The decision noted that two groups of independent scientists reviewed studies that analyzed potential public health risks posed by the facility.
The lab now only needs a final review from the Boston Public Health Commission.
Some portions of the 192,000-square foot building have already opened to study less dangerous germs.
The court's decision "affirms our view that this type of research can be done safely in Boston," BU spokesman Steve Burgay told The Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/1aKsuSo ).
Residents of the area surrounding the lab already suffer "significantly from disproportionate exposure to environmental hazards," and the lab could worsen that, said Jennifer Rushlow, a lawyer for the Conservation Law Foundation, an environmental group that joined the federal lawsuit.
"This community deserves the law's protection, and this decision denied them that," she said.
The foundation is reviewing the decision and is evaluating whether to appeal, Rushlow said.
Several neighborhood residents still have a lawsuit pending in state Superior Court.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com