NEW ORLEANS AREA BIOWEAPONS AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE RESEARCH LABS JEOPARDIZED BY KATRINA
Tulane’s National Primate Research Center Reports No Release of Nearly 5,000 Test Monkeys or Disease Agents – Other NOLA Defense or Research Projects Involve HIV, SIV, SARS, Herpes-B, Anthrax, Botulism, Measles, West Nile and Mousepox
No Confirmed Information on Other NOLA Level-3 Labs Involved in Bioweapons Research – At Least One Lab Reportedly Compromised
Michael C. Ruppert
© Copyright 2005, From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.
September 13, 2005 0800 PST (FTW) – Prior to the arrival of Hurricane Katrina on August 29th, the greater New Orleans area was a significant hub of infectious disease and biological weapons research. At least five Level-3 biolabs were located either in New Orleans or in its nearby suburb of Covington. Level-4 is the only higher containment level and is used primarily for weapons research on hemorrhagic fevers and other viral agents. Although there were many causes for alarm with Katrina, the biggest initial worry for FTW had been the status of nearly 5,000 monkeys (kept outdoors behind barbed wire) used in infectious disease research at the Tulane University National Primate Center.
National Institutes of Health spokesperson Ann Puderbaugh told FTW, “The National Primate Research Center at Tulane came through the storm just fine. There were no injured or escaped animals and there was no release of any biological agents due to other causes.”
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reported very little damage and no release of agents at any of its monitored facilities. CDC maintains a Select Agent Release Program and had issued warnings prior to Katrina’s landfall and had subsequently posted a request for any labs compromised to immediately notify them. CDC spokesman Von Roebuck told FTW, as far as the Select Agent program was concerned, “We made an immediate outreach to all of these laboratories. The reports back were that there had been little or no damage. No loss of or release of any agent occurred and there is currently security in place at all of our facilities.”
Other agencies were not as forthcoming, however, and there are apparently other laboratories that have fallen through the gap in terms of reporting. Whether they have sustained any damage is unknown and it is impossible to make a list because the location of all such facilities is apparently unavailable. Other laboratories might be independent military contractors working with the Department of Defense. The State of Louisiana operates a Level-3 biolab in New Orleans and major hospitals (especially teaching hospitals) usually have such labs.
FTW contacted a number of agencies including the CDC, FEMA, The White House, Tulane University, The Pentagon and the US Army’s Biological Warfare Operations Center (USAMRID) at Fort Detrick, Maryland, The Louisiana Governor’s Office, and the Department of Health and Human Services.
FTW was unable to get a definite answer about all of the remaining laboratories or even an answer as to how many there actually were. No entity had information immediately available at their fingertips in the form of a press release. The CDC was most helpful in making referrals and giving prompt response. FEMA did not respond to two voicemail messages.
A spokesperson for Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco told FTW that to her knowledge all such programs were federally-controlled and then referred us to the state’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The spokesperson apparently had no knowledge of any facilities at LSU or any other state institution. The DEQ had not returned calls as of press time.
The problem is that other defense-related bioweapons or infectious disease research programs in the region might still be compromised and no one seems to have that information or be willing or able to inform the public about it.
INDEPENDENT RESEARCHERS FILL A BIG GAP
It was independent researchers who brought the potential crisis to light. In doing so they have raised a great many questions that must be added to Katrina’s ever-growing list.
According to a report located at The Memory Blog quoting Tulane University Magazine, “The primary areas of focus today at the Tulane National Primate Research Center are infectious diseases, including biodefense related work, gene therapy, reproductive biology and neuroscience. The Tulane primate center is playing a key role in the federal strategic plan for biodefense research.”
Information from The Primate Research Project confirms “Tulane has over 4,500 monkeys of eleven species. Rhesus macaques form the overwhelming majority with at least 3,500 on hand.
“A drive through the facility offers a rare glimpse of caged research monkeys with only a hedge and a barbed-wire fence separating acres of pens from the road.”
That same document continues with an ominous precedent.
In mid October of 1998, two dozen rhesus monkeys escaped from cages in this outdoor area. Tulane officials were quick to assert that the monkeys were not infected with any disease and posed no risk to the public. But consider the Blanchard report below. At least 70% of the TRPRC's monkeys are infected with herpes-B, a disease fatal to humans. This disease has been used as a club against macaques for some time. In Wisconsin, primate center officials used the high incidence figures (common in all captive macaque colonies subjected to regular high stress) to argue that the macaques at the county zoo were a grave risk to the public's health and could not be safely maintained on public display. More recently when rhesus monkeys escaped from an island in Florida, Kirk Boehm, a Wisconsin primate center minor official, once again publicly asserted that macaques pose a risk to the public. The NIH RPRC officials want it both ways. When the public is worried, the monkeys pose no risk; when the public is concerned for the monkeys' well-being, the monkeys are too dangerous to have around. This is the mentality and logic consuming our limited tax dollars and subjecting thousands of monkeys annually to grievous suffering.
In a move that went entirely unnoticed (or unreported on) by the major corporate-owned media, prior to Katrina’s landfall, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control expressed concern for the many infectious disease, biowarfare research facilities in the crosshairs of the killer storm. At the top of the CDC website’s Select Agents Program homepage is the following notice.
Announcement for Entities Impacted by Hurricane Katrina
Entities that are registered with the Select Agent Program who have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina may contact the CDC Select Agent Program for guidance on actions that should be taken to transfer Select Agents to another registered entity or report the theft, loss, or release of select agents that might have occurred due to storm damage [emphasis added]. The CDC Select Agent Program will expedite any special requests from registered entities as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Contact the Program via email at [email protected], phone at 404-498-2255, fax at 404-498-2265, or call your designated CDC representative.
As a result of Katrina, at least one Level-3 lab was compromised, necessitating an emergency trip to protect the deadly agents stored there. That received a mention only in a medical journal.
An ominous quotation in that story from www.medpagetoday.com indicated the urgency and danger involved:
But while the military is going door-to-door to coax, or in some cases force, reluctant residents to evacuate the danger zone in New Orleans, Dr. Curiel is heading back to mount a military-style assault on the laboratories he and his colleagues left behind. Dr. Curiel, 49, is a professor and chief of the section of medical oncology at Tulane.
In addition to the manpower and supplies he and his colleagues need to keep themselves safe, they're bringing as many massive tanks of liquid nitrogen that they can scrounge up.
"A lot of very valuable research material has already perished, because a lot was in freezers that were plugged into electricity, and the emergency power has failed, and everything that's in freezers powered by emergency power is gone forever," he said in a telephone interview this week. "The only things that we can save now are what's in the liquid nitrogen."
Most of the above information was compiled by The Sunshine Project’s Dr. Edward Hammond and independent researcher Brian DePhillips who forwarded it to this writer on September 10 th.
Aside from Tulane there are many other facilities to be concerned about. As DePhillips put it in his message to FTW:
And how much of this kind of research was going on within New Orleans itself? Apparently quite a bit.
-- Louisiana State University’s Medical School has a Level-3 biolab in the Clinical Sciences Research Building located at 533 Bolivar Street. According to grant applications, LSU’s facility was the site of research involving anthrax and genetically-engineered mousepox. And that’s just what we know about.
-- The State of Louisiana has a Level-3 biolab in New Orleans. [see this PDF document]
-- It seems highly likely that an institution the size of Tulane has biolabs in New Orleans itself, not just Covington.
-- Then there’s the University of New Orleans, Loyola University, Xavier University of Louisiana, and others. I don’t know whether they’ve been engaged in bioresearch or have high-level biolabs, but it’d be worth finding out.
-- And let’s not forget the New Orleans Medical Complex, which contains over 40 blocks of hospitals and biomedical research facilities. According to this website, it’s been severely flooded.
How many such facilities were affected by Katrina? What has happened to their potentially deadly contents?
FTW finds it ironic that at the same time that the Bush administration was slashing funding for essential levee repairs and reinforcements it was handing out money for bioweapons research in the region.
Louisiana ’s News Banner reported on these developments on December 14th of last year.
Primate center to build biocontainment lab
By Leslie Ackel
COVINGTON - Tulane National Primate Center is expanding thanks to a $13.6 million grant secured from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases that will go toward the building of a new level-three biocontainment lab. Tulane University will invest $5 million in the project.
Secured among a 500-acre tract of piney woods buffered from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding community by 250 feet of surrounding woods, the 40-year-old university center was selected to conduct research for the development of treatments and vaccines for potential bioterrorism germs.
For the past 10 years scientists at the facility have been working on finding cures for deadly infectious diseases - namely AIDS, SARS, botulism, plague, Lyme disease, smallpox, anthrax and tularemia, all inside a level-three biosafety laboratory. The new biocontainment lab, due to break ground in the spring, will allow Tulane's National Primate Center to expand its focus into biodefense-related work.
Level 3 and 4 biocontainment research facilities are scattered throughout the United States.
Since 9/11 FTW has written extensively on the subject of biological warfare.
A key FTW story on US biolabs is located here. Additional FTW reporting on biological warfare can be found by clicking here and scrolling down to the Biowarfare heading.
FTW has been careful to note an apparent obsession with biological agents on the part of the United States and Britain since 9/11. Like, for example, the military scientist who stated that it was necessary to dig up the bodies of 1918 Spanish Flu victims to obtain the DNA for the deadliest disease ever to strike the planet (Spanish Flu), and claimed that in order to provide a defense against it, they had to first create it as an offensive weapon.
That’s correct. The expert said that it was the US and British governments’ intention to re-create an extinct disease and risk introducing it to the population, for the sole purpose of finding a way to kill it again.
[Editor’s note: Although this is an FTW subscriber-only story, our copyright and the provisions of Title 17 of the US Code does not prevent its reposting or circulation for non-profit educational purposes via list-serves and discussion groups. We strongly encourage that. Our copyright only prohibits the posting of this article in its entirety on any commercial web site, the removal of copyright information or authorship. This article may be quoted liberally and with our blessing and no permission is ever needed for that under the law.]