GAO Slams Feds for Plan to Build Disease Lab in Tornado Alley

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 27, 2009 7:59 AM CDT
This May 5, 2007 photo shows widespread destruction in Greensburg, Kan. after the city was destroyed by a tornado.    (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner, File)
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(Newser) – A Homeland Security plan to build a $700 million lab handling highly infectious animal diseases in Kansas' 'Tornado Alley' probably isn't the best idea it's had, the Washington Post reports. A withering report from the Government Accountability Office found that the DHS based its decision on a flawed, hastily done study that grossly underestimated the chances of pathogens infecting livestock if the lab was built in Kansas or elsewhere on the US mainland.

"They call it 'Tornado Alley' for a reason," says an attorney for a consortium that hoped to bring the facility to Texas. "This really boils down to politics at its very worst and public officials who are more concerned about erecting some gleaming new research building than thinking about what's best for the general public." The new lab is to replace an aging facility on an island off New York state.