News & Events

Plaintiffs are Outraged to Learn that BU’s Waiver Request Seeks to Bypass the State’s MEPA Review

Roxbury Safety Net & STOP the BU Bio-Terror Lab Coalition

Contacts: Klare Allen 617.436.1592 or 617.719.6414
Mel King 617.578.0597

At BU’s invitation, plaintiffs in the lawsuits against the BU Bio-Terror Lab and their counsel met yesterday with representatives of BU and their attorneys to hear details of BU’s proposed waiver request.   In their Aug. 12 press release, BU stated that, if granted, the waiver would enable them to operate the level 1 and 2 labs and to begin the permitting process for the Level 3 lab.   Though BU claims the Risk Assessment will be “reviewed and considered” for the level 3 labs, what we learned yesterday is that BU intends to circumvent the requirement that the state review the Risk Assessment of the level 3 labs.

Though, currently, BU is required to submit the final draft of the Risk Assessment for MEPA review, the waiver would allow them to operate level 3 labs without undergoing this regulatory review. Thus, according to BU’s plan, the Risk Assessment would not be “reviewed and considered” by the MEPA office as required by state regulations, but rather would be “reviewed and considered” at the state and local level only by BU and other, less binding authorities. BU’s plan for its level 3 labs seeks to totally bypass the MEPA process, which was set up to protect communities like ours.

The Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEEA), a state environmental agency, administers the MEPA review process to ensure that the risks associated with development projects are adequately considered. This regulatory measure is in place to protect communities surrounding major developments like the NEIDL. BU’s submissions to the MEPA office throughout this process have been poorly prepared and inadequate. This latest attempt to circumvent MEPA review for level 3 labs fits BU’s pattern.

The plaintiffs have presented an Alternative Vision for the labs that could resolve the ongoing dispute over this project and meet everyone’s needs. In response to BU’s waiver proposal, the Plaintiffs again presented a proposal to BU that could bring this matter to resolution.  However, BU has refused to explore any option other than their proposal for a fully-functional lab containing full BSL 3 and BSL 4 facilities.  Klare Allen, Community Organizer for the Roxbury Safety Net and Coalition stated: “Our fight has just begun.  BU’s arrogant decision to continue to ignore the community and to evade our state’s regulations is a huge mistake.”