Boston University may be able to open a controversial biocontainment lab by the end of the month after years of waiting and delay, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education.
The history of the Boston University Bio Lab is long and complicated. The university won a grant in 2003 to build what would be called the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, which was supposed to contain facilities that would possess the government's highest security rating, Biosafety Level 4. The lab would study dangerous germs and pathogens.
It took a while, but the Massachusetts state agencies recently decided to only allow the university to begin research at Biosafety Level 2, reports the Boston Globe. Biosafety Level 4 is still attainable, but probably unlikely till about 2013 and only in a small section of the building.
There is still one more public comment period left. It will run from Dec. 7 to Dec 21. If and when Biosafety Level 2 is achieved, then the university will be able to research Tuberculosis.
What’s curious is that for years the actual building, a 192,000 square foot structure, had already been constructed and was simply waiting on being populated. But because some of the proposed research subjects would include Ebola and the Plague (the actual diseases, not the nicknames of two cute experimental hamsters), legal challenges and regulatory reviews created a delay. Everyone from the local opposition groups to the National Institute of Health ended up weighing in.
Boston University’s controversial biocontainment lab illustrates that just because you own certain land does not mean you can use it however you like; especially if your use involved infectious disease research. There are a vast array of types of zoning that you may be responsible for, and even after all that, there may be additional environmental or biological concerns.
To get through all these additional steps you will need a competent Boston real estate attorney. No doubt Boston University had a fleet of attorneys, just to get them this far.