Community Forum on Carolina North

Although a lot has been said about UNC's planned research campus, Carolina North, there have not been enough opportunities for citizens to hear and ask about issues and potential impacts, and to hear these addressed from a community perspective.

That's why the grassroots citizens group Neighborhoods for Responsible Growth (NRG), with the generous cooperation of several local organizations, is holding a public forum on Monday, June 4, at 7:00 p.m., in the Chapel Hill Town Council Chambers. This forum, entitled "Carolina North: A Community Perspective", will feature a panel of speakers who have long involvement with this topic. They will be giving short presentations on salient issues, and answering questions from a moderator and from the audience.

Why yet another meeting? Because most of the information that has been disseminated thus far has been coordinated by UNC. That's not a criticism - it's their job. And it's our job as citizens to ask tough questions and demand clear answers to the potential impacts of this, the largest development we will face in our lifetimes, on our community.

The panel of speakers is composed of community leaders who participated in the recent Leadership Advisory Committee meetings, and in other areas related to Carolina North. They are: Julie McClintock, Bill Strom, Bernadette Pelissier, James Carnahan, and Dan Coleman.

Visit the NRG web site for more information:




Mike, will the revolution be televised?

Yes, it will be broadcast and we will make a DVD recording of it as well. We are looking forward to some interesting discussion.

Mike, I'd be happy to post the DVD online.

We won't miss this.

I hope preservation figures prominently into the discussion.

Seems like Sierra Club members make up the bulk of the forum.


NRG decided the panel should be composed of -

a member of both the HWCC and LAC to provide historical perspective

CH Town Council Member

Carrboro Board of Aldermen Member

Orange County representavive

Village Project representative

The selection of panelists was not skewed to select Sierra Club members. It was to find panelists who met the above criteria and had been involved in the CN process, through any of several university, governmantal or citizen committees and organizarions who have worked on CN plans.

Andrea, the forum is composed of a number of Sierra Club members whom, one might assume, are interested in conservation (which, of course, is not the same as preservation).

Just wanted to be sure you all were aware of the University's Carolina North community meeting this Tuesday, May 29. I'll paste in the email notice I sent earlier:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

Just a reminder that our next Carolina North community meeting is this Tuesday, May 29, the day after Memorial Day. You may also want to mark your calendar for the June meeting, which will be on Thursday, June 21. Both will be held at the School of Government at the intersection of South and Country Club Roads, opposite the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

I will send out a reminder email and details for the June 21 meeting closer to the date.

As we've done at the previous meetings, on May 29 we will hold sessions at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m. with the same information presented at each. Please attend whichever is more convenient for you.

There will be limited parking in the School of Government parking lot for both the 3:30 pm and the 5:30 pm sessions with overflow parking available in the Hwy 54 Visitor Lot. Parking may also be available at the meters along South Road. We encourage you to carpool or use transit. Information on transit service to the School of Government is below.

At the meetings, University representatives will present two conceptual plans for development of Carolina North that focus on possible approaches to transit and energy.

For background information on Carolina North, visit Comments from the March and April community meetings are posted and have influenced the ideas that will be shown this month. Please note that we now offer an RSS feed for email alerts when the site is updated. To sign up for this service, go to

If you are a neighborhood or community contact, please forward this to your group as well as any others who may be interested. We have had great participation from the community at the previous meetings and hope you can join us at this one.

As always, please feel free to contact me. We know there is great community interest in Carolina North and look forward to your input.


The School of Government is served by the FCX, S, and V routes. Please check the Chapel Hill Transit site at for maps of the routes, exact schedules and real-time transit route information.

On a previous thread, Mark Marcoplos expressed his concern about university labs working on bio-weaponry and said,

"I have a very difficult time skipping past the lack of information on what types of activity there will be at CN to focus on how the development and building will be done.”

Considering UNC is now involved in biodefense research it would seem that the meetings concerning CN would be a good opportunity to broach this concern and to ask UNC to put in writing that no biodefense research will be conducted or any of President Bush's 6 billion dollars of biodefense funding accepted.

I mention the "put in writing" part only because UNC has a habit of breaking their word---for example when UNC pettioned the Town of Chapel Hill for an SUP to expand the capacity of their coal burning power plant they stood before council and clearly stated the expansion would not involve more coal burning but would utilize cleaner natural gas (which is more expensive). Then a short time later they said they would actually be burning more coal at the already existing facility ( to offset the cost of natural gas at the expansion)---it was clever but not really in the spirit of being open and above board.

We might also want to ask if the biotech research at CN will involve animal experimentation. . .

We might also want to ask about the 2001 study that showed that 60-100 hazmat spills occur at UNC each year, yet UNC does not fully comply with OSHA standards for response and cleanup of hazardous materials spills.

This might be very important considering part of the HW tract lies in a wetland which means groundwater contamination and the fact that many people live close by. . .

The study also reported that UNC researchers and staff routinely ship laboratory samples and other regulated materials, yet few of these shipments fully comply with complex DOT, FAA and IATA rules for transport of hazardous materials.

Yep, there are a lot of questions to ask that involve a lot more than how it's going to be built. . .

UNC petitioned the Town of Chapel Hill for an SUP to expand the capacity of their coal burning power plant they stood before council and clearly stated the expansion would not involve more coal burning but would utilize cleaner natural gas (which is more expensive).

I think you misunderstood. The SUP request was to expand the size of the turbine at the cogeneration plant which will allow them to capture more of the energy contained within the same quantity of coal. While the average coal burning plant captures anywhere from 40-65% of the energy contained within the coal it burns, the larger turbine will allow UNC to capture close to 90%. More power (steam and electricity) utilizing the same quantity of coal. If they were planning to burn natural gas instead of coal, they wouldn't need the larger turbine.


It is a matter of public record that UNC oficials first said that the expansion would not increase the amount of coal burned and then changed their position and said yes they would be burning more coal . . .

But let's forget about that---the real point here concerns biological warfare defense research (a six billion dollar initiative thanks to the ever insane President Bush).

UNC is currently engaged in this research and the question is. . .do we as citizens support this research. . .and will UNC's new biotech research park mean an escalation in this research?

I think it is entirely proper to ask what research might be conducted by the University to insure that adequate safeguards are in place to protect the public and the environment. And I think citizens are certainly within their rights to support or criticize whatever research the University is conducting. But for the public to decide the appropriateness (aside from the safeguards issues) of any such research is heading down a slippery slope. Twenty years ago there were politicians who felt that AIDS research was inappropriate or unnecessary because it was a gay disease. And there are probably individuals who feel that malaria research is a waste of public money because it doesn't affect many Americans. And working on vaccines for sexually-transmitted diseases might be considered wrong because it encourages sexual promiscuity. And, of course, there are still a number of non-scientists who are more than willing to condemn the vast majority of scientists who have lent their support to studies which support the concept of global warming.

GeorgeC, the slippery slope of "bio-defense", of course, is that the tools of defense are eminently convertible to offense. It doesn't help that the U.S., even after the 1972 Bioweapons Convention was adopted, continued its research programs for offensive deployments under the guise of "bio-defense". Worse, of course, is Bush, Bolton and Powell's derailment of upgrades to the verification/inspection procedures of the BWC 2001 through today.

But that's beside the point. You can sum up my concern quite easily - "NOT IN MY BACKYARD" without informed consent. I've asked UNC's reps at every community outreach on CN I've attended what constitutes bio-tech research at the new campus, what commitments they will make to integrate community concerns into their action plans, what limits they would voluntarily adopt to minimize danger to our neighborhoods. So far, no substantive response - just the "same old, same old" don't worry Will.

I'm no modern day Luddite. As I believe, based on sound technical grounds, that siting a second reactor or increasing the rate spent rods are stored at Shearon-Harris is bad public policy, I also believe siting a top-tier "bio-defense" research facility in a densely populated corridor is also.

GeorgeC, UNC could be quite a bit more forthcoming. What does "bio-tech" at CN entail? What measures will be taken to protect the public? Further, as a member of the Planning Board, what are your recommendations vis-a-vis zoning to manage possible risks?

If you're asking planning staff for research information, I'm not surprised they can't answer you. I seriously doubt if they know. Why not ask the forum organizers to invite someone who actually knows something about safety precautions or potential public hazards?

I seriously doubt that weapons will be developed from the research being funded under the 6 billion dollar biodefense program that Robin mentioned. The fact is that most of these agents have already been weaponized by the US and Russia and our stockpiles supposedly destroyed after the 1972 treaty. Now we realize that once you create a weapon it becomes increasingly difficult to control it and we are now trying to figure out how to protect ourselves should such weapons fall into the wrong hands. You need special equipment and facilities to handle aerosolized agents and I think it is reasonable to ask UNC whether there is any intent to work on such agents at CN. But the SERCEB program that Robin C mentioned, in which UNC and Duke are involved, is not a bioweapons program, as many like to incorrectly refer to it, but a program to find therapies to counter these agents which we already know to be out there. For instance, several of its programs are focused on preventing the damage to the lungs that would occur to anyone exposed to a dirt bomb. But development of an effective treatment will also allow doctors to prevent the lung damage that occurs in patients undergoing radiation treatment for cancer. An effective treatment for exposure to several of the bacterial toxins that might be used to poison the food supply will also allow doctors to treat patients who ingest tainted meat or naturally-contaminated spinach.
The agents that can be used as weapons are, for the most part, naturally occurring (eg, ricin is found as a significant bi-product) in the mash generated from processing of castor beans to castor oil). The weaponizing of these agents is often just a matter of scale and delivery. Having antidotes to these agents lessens the likelihood that they will be used as weapons and provides us with therapies for use in natural exposures.

Meant "dirty bomb" not dirt bomb.

Terri, UNC's reps should know something about the type of business they're proposing. The proposed economic benefits to the NC taxpayer are still not very clear. The one ROI analysis was weak to say the best and the folks presenting at the community outreachs continue to be befuddled by the simplest questions on economic necessity (of course the question of on street parking - one side or both - threw them too).

Now, just like Council and Lot #5, UNC can continue to punt on any substantive report as to those benefits - kind of adopt the vagueness of an "eyes on the street" approach - but with billions in play, the real possibility of offloading millions of dollars of service requirements onto the local community, well, it would be nice if at this point we had a better answer than "bio-tech will be the engine of economic growth". Time to put their cards on the table. My guess is Moeser's folks realize, again like Lot #5, that their numbers will not bear true scrutiny - a shame since a real business analysis might sharpen up their plan.

Will R. has stated,

UNC's reps should know something about the type of business they're proposing. The proposed economic benefits to the NC taxpayer are still not very clear.. . it would be nice if at this point we had a better answer than “bio-tech will be the engine of economic growth

Right you are Will!!

Vera Hassner Sharav, president of the non-profit Alliance for Human Research Protection has stated that fears about pandemics and the need for defensive vaccines are a money grab by wealthy multinationals.

"What we're having here is essentially a transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to the pharmaceutical industry,'' she said. (see “Bush requests $7.1 billion to stop bird flu; BAY AREA COMPANIES LIKELY TO BENEFIT By Steve Johnson Mercury News 11/01/2005).

In the 1976 ‘Swine Flu Fiasco,' medical officers warned that the ‘swine flu' would be one of the worst epidemics in medical history, and millions of dollars were appropriated by Congress (and given to biotech/pharmaceutical corporations) to develop and administer a vaccine to prepare for this ‘killer flu.'

Only a total of six cases of swine flue were reported, but the ‘swine flu' vaccine reportedly caused 565 cases of Guillain-Barre paralysis, 30 to 60 deaths and numerous other problems including blindness.

And then there was the great bird flu scare---in 2005 President Bush pushed for throwing 7 billion dollars at preparing for a bird flu pandemic---the majority of money went to the makers of Tamiflu.

Many doctors agree that Tamiflu is a worthless drug that in no way shape or form treats the avian flu, but only decreases the amount of days one is sick and can actually contribute to the virus having more lethal mutations.

In spite of this, the U.S. placed an order for 20 million doses of this worthless drug at a price of $100 per dose---a total of $2 billion.

The drug was actually developed by a company called Gilead that 10 years ago gave Roche the exclusive rights to market and sell Tamiflu.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was made the chairman of Gilead in 1997 and holds major portions of stock in Gilead--which means he and the corporation made lots of cash. (See, “Rumsfeld to profit from bird flu hoax” Posted on October 25, 2005, Health Action Network Society).

The fact is that infusion of billions of taxpayers' dollars into biodefense is a form of “corporate welfare” for biotech firms--it makes biotech corporate executives and insiders like Rumsfeld wealthy and siphons money away from other legitimate health initiatives (like the recent cuts in mental health programs).

So do we really need this billion dollar push to defend ourselves against bioterrorism?

Well consider this---there were no biological weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq---but we went to war anyway and corporations like Halliburton got rich off it.

Now we have billions being thrown at biodefense research---a result of the post 9-11 anthrax attacks. But genetic analysis revealed the anthrax used in the post-11 anthrax attack in D.C. was manufactured by a U.S. army infectious disease lab.

Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, the director of the Chemical and Biological Weapons program of the Federation of American Scientists stated she believed the anthrax mailings were perpetrated by a former employee of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), at Fort Detrick, Maryland who carried out the attack in part to motivate the government to spend more money in bioweapons research. (see Nicholas Lemann, "The Anthrax Culprit," The New Yorker, March 18, 2002).

George C. has stated,

"I seriously doubt that weapons will be developed from the research being funded under the 6 billion dollar biodefense program that Robin mentioned."

Biodefense research is inherently “duel purpose” in nature—that is, offensive capabilities are necessarily produced in the process of testing or creating defensive measures.

This is not my opinion---for example see:

Laura Reed and Seth Shulman, “A Perilous Path to Security?: Weighing U.S. “Biodefense” against Qualitative Proliferation,” in Susan Wright, ed. Biological Warfare and Disarmament (Rowman & Littlefield, 2002), pp. 57-76;

and also Jonathan King, “Biological Defense is Just Another Name for Offensive Weapons,” GeneWatch, March 2002, p. 8. 13) ibid 4, at 32).

It is also the opinion of the former chief U.S. negotiator for the Biological Weapons Convention. . .

The former chief American negotiator of the Biological Weapons Convention, James Leonard, together with Richard Spertzel, the senior biologist for the U.N. Special Commission in the 1990s, and bioweapons expert Milton Leitenberg warned that the Bush biodefense effort could certainly be interpreted as "development" of biological weapons--activities prohibited by the Biological Weapons Convention. (see Milton Leitenberg, James Leonard, and Richard Spertzel, "Biodefense Crossing the Line," Politics and the Life Sciences, vol. 22, no. 22 (September 2004), pp. 1-2).

How would the United States have responded had our biodefense projects been uncovered in Iraq? Undoubtedly the Bush administration would have claimed such facilities were designed to produce "weapons of mass destruction."

My research is biodefense-related and it involves toxins that have already been weaponized. So how is it going to provide new weapons when they already exist? What it might do is lessen the chances some idiot will use those weapons.

Well George C. I can see why you are such a fan of this type of research---it's your job and your income---and there's lots of money available thanks to the insane President Bush.

I think many might be curious as to what weaponized toxins you are currently working on.. .

Oh, and as to your justification that "heck, the weaponized toxins already exist so working on vaccines is just preventative" consider the following:

ONE: Weaponizing pathogens involved so many possible genetic variations that it is impossible to develop a defense. . .note the following articles.

“Taking biodefense too far: The United States is developing a costly bio-umbrella to protect its citizens against biothreats that do not now--and may never--exist.” By Susan Wright November/December 2004 pp. 58-66 (vol. 60, no. 6) © 2004 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists).

Frank von Hippel, "Must We Have a BW Arms Race With Ourselves?" (final session, Princeton University Seminar Series: The Biodefense Challenge: How Should the Life-Science Research Community Respond? May 21, 2004).

TWO: Even if we are crazy enough to enter into a biological arms race with ourselves. . .this research should NOT be done in populated areas. . .

Ebright and Nancy Connell of the Center for Biodefense and Ruy V. Lourenco of the Center for the Study of Emerging and Re-Emerging Pathogens, at the New Jersey Medical School have stated:

"We believe that increasing the number of institutions and people with access to bioweapons agents will increase the likelihood of their release...We find the idea of a government-sponsored, large scale multi-site (research oriented) building boom frightening." (The Portland Independent Media Sept. 6, 2003 “Controversy Grows Around Proposed OHSU Bio-terrorism Lab” by Elaine Close).

Citizen opposition to biodefense research conducted by universities or government facilities has been raised by surrounding communities in Davis and Oakland, California; Boston, Massachusetts; Hamilton, Montana; and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
(see Marylia Kelley and Jay Coghlan's "Mixing Bugs and Bombs," in the September/October 2003 Bulletin).

In Boston, 150 local physicians and scientists expressed opposition to Boston University Medical Center's plans to build a research facility for biodefense work stating that “even the slightest possibility of a leak into the surrounding neighborhood undermines the project.”
(see May 11, 2004 edition Christian Science Monitor “Boston debates dangers of scientific research in era of WMD” by Noel C. Paul).

Dr. Richard Ebright, a microbiologist who directs a laboratory at the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University said that:

"Each new facility that maintains stocks of agents for biowarfare research becomes a potential source of deliberate or accidental releases and each additional person trained in handling those agents and possessing those agents becomes an additional possible point of deliberate or accidental release."

THREE: I repeat, biodefense research is duel purpose in nature--even if not working on a vaccine for a new possible weaponized agent. . .if you are working on a "vaccine" for an already existing weaponized pathogen (wait, weren't we suppose to destroy them?) it means you have supplies of the weaponized pathogen---and when universities around the country jump on this research bandwagon this means in effect we are stockpiling weaponized pathogens. . .which completly undermines the intent of the Biological Weapons Convention.

Oh, but that's right, in 2001 President Bush rejected the new Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention. And Science reported that his rejection was "driven by the concerns of the biotech and pharmaceutical industries" worried about vaccine patents, trade secrets and big money (Science , March 16, 2001).

In the end, it's always about big money for biotech/pharmaceutical Corporations---and the university researchers in partnership with them.

On the non-bio-warfare front ;-)

Here's a video of yesterday's 3:30pm session.

In case anyone is interested (which I doubt) in what toxins I'm working on, the toxins are shiga toxin (think contaminated spinach) and SEB (staphylococcus enterotoxin B; think skin infections that have gotten into the bloodstream). You can Google them and get more info. Obviously, therapies for these toxins would be beneficial to our everyday lives but I think this is starting to get too far afield from the original thread so I suggest we just call it quits.

George Cat stated,
"In case anyone is interested (which I doubt) in what toxins I'm working on. . .Shiga toxin (think contaminated spinach) and SEB (staphylococcus enterotoxin B; think skin infections. . ."

George, you said you were working on toxins that had already been weaponized. . .are you saying these have already been weaponized?

And really, you suppose people aren't interested in what type of weaponized toxins are being researched in their backyard?

You then said,
". . .but I think this is starting to get too far afield from the original thread so I suggest we just call it quits."

Hey George, the original thread was about Carolina North--the pending biotech research park---how is discussing what type of research might be carried on there and the dangers of biowarfare defense research not relevant?

And what about the risks of an accidental release of one of these pathogens in a populated area?

Yes, these toxins (which occur in nature) were weaponized years ago by the US and other governments. But in terms of exposure you're more likely to be exposed from eating spinach from Harris Teeter than you are by anything occurring at CN, assuming they even worked on anything like this. The amounts of toxins used in biodefense research are minescule and used under stringent conditions. The amounts you're exposed to at the market are unknown and uncontrolled. Two hundred people were hospitalized last year and 3 people died from Shiga toxin (contaminated spinach). I'm not aware of anyone ever dying from a research lab exposure and I assure you the safeguards in place are a lot more stringent than anything you might have for your food supply. I repeat what I said at the beginning of this thread: it's appropriate to ask what type of research will be conducted at CN and what safeguards will be employed but it is inappropriate to automatically demand that certain research should be banned without discussion.

George C.,

You have said you are working on weaponized Shiga toxin (think contaminated spinach) and said---"But in terms of exposure you're more likely to be exposed from eating spinach from Harris Teeter. . ."

Escherichia coli O157:H7 and other strains of E. coli that produce Shiga toxin are collectively known as Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC).

The contaminated spinach e-coli outbreak and other contaminated food outbreaks could, and should, be solved with stricter enforcement of safety & cleanliness in food growing and processing and by revising the use of reclaimed wastewater (that contains traces of human waste) for irrigation of crops.

Currently inspections of our food processing plants is a joke and although warnings are issued the corporations simply ignore them until there is a recall or an outbreak.

And in 2006 there was an article about reclaimed wastewater used for irrigation by a leading soil scientist published in California Progress Reports entitled “E. coli: Why Monterey County Made a Poor Decision on the Type of Water to Use for Irrigation of Their Croplands.”

Basically this soil scientist stated that reclaimed wastewater should never be used to irrigate food crops—especially crops such as strawberries, artichokes and tender leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach (for those who are interested in more on this subject there will be a post on my website soon).

The solution is not to study weaponized versions of a pathogen.

Generally those engaged in military biodefense research will always justify it by saying the research can also result in some finding that could benefit the public. . .this may even turn out to be true, but does it really justify the study of the weaponized pathogen?. . .remember, Louis F. Fieser, the Harvard Professor whose research led to napalm and the horrorific killing and maining of civilians and our own soldiers during the Vietnam War said he wasn't responsible for how his research was used by the government. . .

In terms of the safety of conducting biowarfare defense research in a populated area you stated:

"I'm not aware of anyone ever dying from a research lab exposure and I assure you the safeguards in place are a lot more stringent than anything you might have for your food supply."

In terms of safety consider the following( and remember Duke and UNC are now participating in biowarfare defense research separately and in a partnership at the new Duke biodefense facility).

****In 2005 Duke had to notify about 4,000 patients that they may have been operated on with surgical instruments that were accidentally “cleaned” with hydraulic fluid. It turned out drums labeled "detergent" actually contained hydraulic fluid that was piped into the instrument-cleaning system. Even more disturbing these mislabeled drums were found sitting in a hospital parking deck and were just taken in and hooked up to the cleaning system without anyone checking the contents or wondering why they were on a parking deck to begin with.

****A 2001 report entitled Strategic Planning for UNC Environment, Health & Safety stated that 60-100 hazmat spills occur at UNC each year, yet UNC does not fully comply with OSHA standards for response and cleanup of hazardous materials spills.

The report also stated UNC researchers and staff routinely ship laboratory samples and other regulated materials, yet few of these shipments fully comply with federal regulations governing the transport of hazardous materials.

The report also stated that “UNC's current practice of assigning the highly technical and risky job of radioactive material receipt, opening, monitoring, and transport to a full-time student employee is inappropriate.”

Then there was the citation UNC received for failure to properly secure and dispose of hazardous material which consisted of barrels of deadly mercury. . .the huge oil spill UNC didn't report. . .and so on. . .

In February 2001 the U.S. DOE's Office of Inspector General cited research scientists and administrators at labs across the country for systematic carelessness in handling the highly toxic organisms [anthrax, bubonic plague and botulism]." (see "BioWarfare and the Department of Energy" by Tim King Council for Responsible Genetics GeneWatch Volume 14 Number 6 November - December 2001).

A report in May 2002 by the inspector-general of the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that many of the department's 124 research laboratories were vulnerable to theft and could not account accurately for their stocks of animal and plant pathogens. (see “Report Finds Easy Lab Access to Deadly Pathogens,” Reuters, May 8, 2002).

As for illness and deaths from pathogens escaping from labs. . .here's just a couple of examples. . .

In 2004, three lab workers at the Boston University Medical Center were accidentally exposed to a potentially lethal and virulent strain of tularaemia bacterium. The lab didn't report the tularemia infections until two months later - after it had won a contract to build a new, $178 million biodefense laboratory. ( See “Boston biosecurity lapse was not the first” by Jeff Hecht January 24, 2005 New Scientist).

In 2005 a leaky aerosol chamber manufactured by the University of Wisconsin at Madison was responsible for three laboratory-acquired tuberculosis infections in a Seattle BSL-3 lab. . .Madison chambers have been purchased for use in many labs across America including UNC at Chapel Hill.(see Faulty BioLab Aerosol Chamber
Infects Three With TB, Patricia Doyle, PhD
The Sunshine Project 4-20-5).

"In 2003 in the suburb of Reston, Virginia, two outbreaks of the Ebola virus from the Hazelton Research Products Laboratory threatened the population of the greater Washington, D.C., area. As government public relations flacks called for calm and assured the press and public that a slight problem was being corrected, a space-suited US Army decontamination team sealed off the Hazelton Research Products laboratory and transformed it into the biological equivalent of the lunar surface, a place where no living organism could survive." (see CounterPunch “Bioterrorism Lab Under Construction at NIH” By KARYN STRICKLER December 18, 2003).

In December 2002, a three-hour total power failure undermined the containment systems at an infectious disease laboratory at Plum Island, New York. Workers had to resort to sealing the doors with duct tape, as the air compressors failed.(see Marc Santora, “Power Fails for Three Hours at Plum Island Infectious Disease Lab,” New York Times, December 20, 2002, p. B1).

The last naturally-occurring case of smallpox in the world was contracted in October, 1977 by a young man in Merka Town, Somalia. He survived, and no new cases were reported in Somalia or elsewhere. But ironically, in 1978 two more cases popped up in Birmingham, England, from smallpox virus escaped from a research lab (see World Health Organization declares smallpox eradicated 1980 PBS).

And just one other point, there are many who have noted that the push for biowarfare defense research and new laws such as the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 has led to more secrecy and errosion of the Freedom of Information Act especially as it relates to biodefense research.

And citizens understandably feel that freedom of information is more important than ever when it comes to biodefense research. . .

In March, 2005 The News & Observer reported that North Carolina cities and government agencies, including the University of North Carolina, were pushing for a new state law that would allow them to sue citizens and news organizations who requested records or access to meetings under the Freedom of Information Act. . .

Not exactly a confidence builder. . .

George, you stated:

". . .it's appropriate to ask what type of research will be conducted at CN and what safeguards will be employed but it is inappropriate to automatically demand that certain research should be banned without discussion."

Up until now there's been no real discussion of biowarfare defense research being conducted by UNC and Duke. . .mainly because most people don't even know it's going on---the local mainstream media hasn't covered it. . .

To clarify: I'm working on shiga toxin and SEB. Shiga toxin and SEB have, in the past, been weaponized. The toxins I work with are not weaponized.

George C. you said to clarify,

"The toxins I work with are not weaponized."
Comment at 5:37am 5/31/2007 by George C

Sorry, I was confused by your previous post,

"My research is biodefense-related and it involves toxins that have already been weaponized. So how is it going to provide new weapons when they already exist? What it might do is lessen the chances some idiot will use those weapons."
Comment at 12:54pm 5/30/2007 by George C

More on the forum from NRG's Mike Collins via the Chapel Hill News' OrangeChat


Imagine a thriving research community in the heart of Chapel Hill -- a home for innovative technologies and business opportunities, a model of sustainability, self-sufficient, self-powered, a place of the future on a footprint small enough to preserve the surrounding 700 acres of woodlands and streams. One that merges seamlessly into the surrounding community, accessible by a number of transit modes, and with green spaces and amenities that draw citizens from everywhere.

Or…imagine a development the size of five Southpoint shopping malls, traditional buildings with massive parking lots, gridlock as people fill the roads on their way home to northern Orange, Alamance, and Chatham counties. Imagine more and more days with air pollution advisories. Imagine water shortages and increased taxes brought on by poor planning and lack of foresight.


A petition to UNC's Board to Trustees to save everything left unblemished by the initial phase of the Carolina North buildout.

...and more about that and tomorrow's Trails Day celebrations at:

steve hoge

There's a place in Freiburg, Germany, that has been getting a lot of press recently that I believe has many lessons for Carolina North. It's called Vauban, and has 2,000 homes on 93 acres.

ABC News has now picked up on the development.

Vauban website (in English)

This community forum on Carolina North will be TONIGHT Monday, June 4, at 7:00 p.m. at Chapel Hill Town Hall. Ya'll come!

Is the forum being broadcast by any chance?

Mike Collins, head of NRG, is starting the event.

I'd say the crowd is about 2/3rds full. Not bad at all considering the County Commisioners budget hearing going on simultaneously down at the Stone Center.

He's talking about new revelations of last week:

Relocation of existing programs, etc.

He's showing a variety of slides about how Carolina North could affect traffic, air, and water quality, etc. Making the point that it could be pretty bad if not done in the right way.

Many unanswered questions:

How is Carolina North going to be powered?

UNC and our elected officials need all the citizen feedback they can get to make sure this is done right.

Talking about the Madison trip- University of Wisconsin values its green space and is commited to keeping it that way.

Julie McClintock is giving some very good background information, much of which is in a handout I'm sure you could get a hold of if you'd like to see it.

There's another meeting on the political dimension organized for next month (if there's enough interest).

Bernadette Pelissier is up to talk about environmental impact.

She will focus on land, water, and air all of which she says are somewhat impaired at this point.

Land: this property is 1,000 acres out of about 13,000 acres in Chapel Hill. Much of the land on the Horace Williams tract is not suitable for development. The part that is for the most part is on the site of the airport. On the east side of the property is the Crow Branch, which is already impaired.

Air: we already have impaired air quality in this community. UNC was hesistant to say that Carolina North would not have a net negative impact on air quality during the LAC process.

Water: Bolin Creek is not yet impaired. Most of our creeks run into Jordan Lake, which is impaired. The community needs a decrease in stormwater runoff, which will be a challenge.

Care to elaborate, Will?

Couple statements that indicate that the speakers believe the LAC report is what mathematicians call "sufficient". I'd argue that it is "necessary" but not "sufficient", in other words, a subset of the greater set of goals and requirements necessary for a good end result.

Dan Coleman starts with an interesting analogy - "magic" it's slight of hand - the art of misdirection...

Dan Coleman is up now. In a November 2003 column he wrote about recently unveiled Carolina North plans. The community was up in arms about them. He wrote: there's a plan, but don't think the plan has anything to do with what's going to happen at Carolina North.

Dan's been involved with this issue since 1994. He thinks we shouldn't get distracted by what 'may not be as real as it seems.'

He thinks the most meaningful parts of the LAC report are those where there is disagreement. The areas of disagreement at the start of that process were the same as the areas of disagreement at the end of that process.

What the community put forward is the vision of mixed use, which is becoming increasingly popular in our society.

Carolina North at its best will be like that. The university is vague about what it will commit to in terms of housing. The fact is that when you look at the development proposals going in, if they were following the market, most of what they would be building is housing.

In the LAC Mayor Chilton did a conservative estimate of the amount of housing that might be required by Carolina North based on the current plans at that point. He said there would be 20-22,000 jobs requiring about 10,000 new housing units. They want that housing built at Carolina North where they can walk to work and the other amenities provided there. UNC is only calling for about 500 housing units. The quality of life in our community depends a lot on where all those workers live.

Dan continues on with the reduction of housing - 500 units - that the quality of life is tied to housing/transportation.

Strom - we've been talking about UNC in a bubble - acknowledges all the Council members in the audience... Sally, Cam, Kevin, Ed, Jim

Mark, elaborate later when I catch up....

flickr photos here:

Strom - plenty of water - can get a new transit system out of this...

BTW, plenty of HWCC members here...

Strom is referring to a study that says when folks move into suburbs their transportation costs rise exponentially - then he references a list of large cities - not sure what the applicability is here...

Bill Strom up now to talk about transit. We have a Chapel Hill Transit master plan under way with multi-jurisdictional cooperation. This plan has the possibility to bring us a robust, innovative, user friendly system the best of its type for a community this size in the country.

Infrastructure planning is an important role of local government. OWASA has done a particularly good job with this. We need to improve the usability of transit within our own community so that folks use it more.

The UNC plans coming out seem to be very inwardly focused. They are not very well meshed with the rest of the community.

October is an artificial deadline. This project is too important for the community to be confined in such a short planning period. It somewhat conflicts with reality.

On May 16th the center for Transit Oriented Development released a report finding that as people go into the suburbs to find cheaper housing, their transportation costs rise exponentialy. People spend 25% of their household income on it, where as people in transportation rich areas spend only 9% of their household income on it.

We need to plan better about this.

Carnahan on height preserves open space - talks how the University won't commit to preservation - makes a good case for 4 story buildings preserving 235 acres in UNC's current proposed 6m sq/ft


Although the university commits not to build in environmentally sensitive areas, what needs to be addressed before building starts?


Old landfill, chemical site needs remediation. The ecological assessment had a goal of what should not be built on, but also how the university should mitigate the negative effects that have already occurred.

Philip Duchastel:

How does the way we're working with the university compare with how we would work with a private developer?

If a private developer was proposing a development this large, we'd be going through a pretty similar process, says Dan Coleman. Hearkens to the days of Meadowmont.

Great job, Tom & Will. Keep it going.

I just got here 10 minutes ago due to unavoidable crap at home. Only brought my phone, no laptop.

Will is asking a question. He wants to know how to get the university on board with clear metrics?

Bernadette says the community at large needs to be asking those questions. It's up to us to bring those to bear.

Bill says there is no application yet in place from UNC. The town will do its due diligence when there is one. Not a ton that can be done at this point.

Tim Williams says, as we talk about sustainability, to what extent does that include sustainable means of construction and power supply?

UNC will get silver LEED certification for its buildings. When someone comes to the town asking for a new zone, we can 'ask them to stand on their heads.' But the Council can't get too far out ahead of its citizens- they need to speak out.



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