Community Wary of Facility

1 decade 1 year 1 month ago Monday, April 30 2007 Apr 30, 2007 Monday, April 30, 2007 10:59:30 PM CDT April 30, 2007 in News

The NBAF would research diseases that animals and humans share and the proposed location isn't far off from Highway 63 or residential areas.

The University of Missouri owns the plot of land which is near a retirement home, an elementary school and a mobile home park. People who live and work near the proposed facility have a lot of questions.

"It's a little bit of mixed feelings. If it can control the epidemics...all for it, but if there's outbreaks, I have a four-year-old son," mobile home resident Rebecca Driver said.

Experts say there's a way to rid Columbians of their worries.

"Part of that can be overcome by education. I mean the track record for these types containment facilities is very strong. In the last 20 years there's not been a single person who's come down with an illness as a consequence of having one of these facilities in their community," George Stewart, of the MU Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, said.

But diseases from similar facilities have affected some animals in the past. The NBAF in New York accidentally released Hoof-and-Mouth organisms, which led to the death of 12 horses. But Stewart says the deaths were due to poor infrastructure.

"Because it was a facility designed and constructed 50 plus years ago, it doesn't have the level of containment the new facilities have," Stewart said.

But that may not be enough for the community to welcome the facility with open arms.

"They'd have to convince me I think," Driver said.

Open meetings are planned to give everyone a chance to voice opinions. A meeting is scheduled for Tuesday night in the New Haven Elementary gym.

Federal officials plan to visit Columbia May 10-11 to view the site and meet with MU officials. The federal government hasn't made a final decision on where to build.

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