Bio-lab: Give it to non-doubters
by Tracy Press
May 09, 2007 | 343 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

With 15 other communities in 11 states going all out to get the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility — the infamous bio-lab proposed for Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Site 300, it doesn’t make sense to locate it near Tracy with all the love for it elsewhere.

In fact, Tracy and Dane County, Wis., home of the liberal University of Wisconsin-Madison, share national honors as the only local governments to go on record not to support the $450 million bio-lab and its promised 300 lab-related jobs. Tracy City Council members this winter voted 3-1 to oppose the Site 300 plan when Mayor Brent Ives, who works at the Livermore lab, abstained because of a conflict of economic interest.

Who would have guessed the Tracy City Council would be buddies with the town board of the community known as “Berkeley of the Midwest”

They seem to be the only local governments not to try to offer the federal government perks like roads, cheap water supplies and discounted utilities to better their chances to win the bio-lab bid.

But news that San Antonio has put up three sites in its city, which already is home to a private Level 4 bio-lab, puts the issue into a different context. The trove of promised financial treasures blinds some Americans. Although there have been pockets of opposition in some of these communities, Tracy and Dane’s elected officials are the only ones so far to hear the concerns of their residents and stand up to the Department of Homeland Security that asks them not to fret because all the details of the bio-lab are hush-hush, top secret.

Patent lawyer George Corrigan, who lives on Lake Kegonsa near Madison, Wis., even repeats what some Tracy critics have said about the lack of definitive answers from the federal government regarding what would be tested at the bio-lab and the security around it.

“They made sweeping statements of ‘Trust us,’ generalizations that nothing bad will happen. That may be good enough for some people, but not for me,” Corrigan told The Associated Press this week.

It wasn’t good enough for Tracy, either. Until the Department of Homeland Security comes clean with all the facts, the pluses and the minuses of hosting the bio-lab, Tracy’s tone should remain the same — doubting.

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