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February 6, 2006

Boston lab built to hold exotic germs

BOSTON

Boston University won final federal approval for a controversial plan to build a research laboratory in the city’s south end that would handle some of the world’s most dangerous and exotic germs.

The decision by the National Institutes of Health secures $128 million US in federal funding for the lab, which will be part of a national group of facilities that will study infectious diseases such as ebola and the West Nile virus.

University officials said the lab will be safe and will provide needed research into contagious illnesses and the risk they might pose in the hands of bioterrorists.

But opponents have criticized the decision to build the lab in a densely populated urban neighbourhood.

The controversy escalated in 2004, when three workers at another BU lab became sick after they were exposed to a highly infectious strain of tularemia, or rabbit fever. They recovered.

Construction is scheduled to begin this month and should be complete by 2008.

Associated Press

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