BU Biolab Case Returns to Court

by jeeg 4. April 2013 21:56

CLF and affected community residents will be back in Court on April 11th arguing that the high-level biocontainment laboratory proposed by Boston University (BU) has no place in the densely populated urban environmental justice community of Roxbury/ South End. Please join us in standing up for this important cause by attending the hearing in Boston on April 11th.

As we reported last year, having failed twice before, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and BU have attempted for the third time to adequately explain how the risks associated with placing a high-level biocontainment laboratory (the “Biolab”) that would test pathogens like ebola and the plague are acceptable for an urban environmental justice community. NIH released its latest Risk Assessment in July 2012. For the third time, that Risk Assessment does not meaningfully address the fact that the Boston location selected for siting the NEIDL comes with substantially more risk potential than rural or suburban alternative sites. The final Risk Assessment also fails to fully analyze the ways in which the environmental justice community living near the NEIDL site would be unfairly affected by proximity to the facility. Unfortunately, however, NIH decided that the Risk Assessment was adequate to close out its investigation of the risks of this facility, and issued a final Record of Decision in January 2013. That Record of Decision is the trigger that brought the parties to this ongoing litigation back to Court.

In this case, six plaintiffs (five community residents and CLF), challenge the adequacy of NIH’s Risk Assessment and Record of Decision in the U.S District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Chief Judge Patti Saris of that Court will hear cross-motions for summary judgment, and the plaintiffs’ motion for a permanent injunction against the Biolab, on April 11th in Boston. You can read the plaintiffs’ brief here. Judge Saris’ findings from this hearing could yield a variety of results, but in short – the case could conclude immediately, either in our favor or against us, or the case could go on to trial.

This hearing is a major milestone in the case against the Biolab, and community presence in the courtroom is powerful. If this issue is important to you, you need to be there. The details for the hearing are:

BU Biolab Hearing
April 11, 2013
2:30 PM
Moakley Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Way, Boston
Courtroom 19

Moakley Courthouse is located on the waterfront in Boston, and is accessible by transit via the Silver Line (or a 15 minute walk from the Red Line at South Station).  The courtroom is likely to be busy and may not be able to fit everyone who would like to be present, so please arrive early to ensure a seat. You should bring identification for security clearance and allow extra time for that process at the Courthouse entrance. Anything you bring with you to the Courthouse will be screened by security.

If you care about Boston’s residents – you should be at this hearing. If you care about environmental justice, the importance of hearing the public’s voice, or the importance of transparency in government decisionmaking – you should be at this hearing. This matter is deeply important – for us and our neighbors – and we hope you’ll show your support by standing beside us on April 11th.

Jenny Rushlow, Conservation Law Foundation


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