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back to article Science MPs horrified by UK bio-lab management

MPs have painted a embarrassing picture of the UK’s bio research facilities, describing some labs as “shabby” and “deplorable” after years of underinvestment and neglect. The Innovations, Universities, Science and Skills committee launched its investigation after the foot and mouth outbreak in Surrey last year, which was …

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Black Helicopters

national security

the report writers should have sighted National Security as the reason for knowing about our own short comings before the boggy men do!!

... that would have put them on the gravy train quicksmart.

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Go

And about time too.

May I harp on about any organisation in receipt of public monys has to accept an equal responsibility and accountability?

OK, I thought so. Perhaps such research centres should have tightening up under their (hopefully existent) H&S officers?

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Black Helicopters

A logical conclusion

"the Government should know the location, capacity and capability of all high containment laboratories in the UK"...

.. so that the data can be put on a CD and left on the backseat of a minicab in Croydon?

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Silver badge

Leaky Drains

Boffins, politicians, and CEO's always seem to forget that the end of the world will be caused by a "leaky drain".

No amount of planning, technology, consulting, or money will cover all the bases. It all comes down to risk management - something which the Western World seems to have forgotten.

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Black Helicopters

Bad idea...

“the Government should know the location, capacity and capability of all high containment laboratories in the UK”

Then they can put it on a couple of CDs, mail them to another office and lose them.

Best way I can think of for the paedo-terrorist-photographers to get hold of the information!

Then again its not info that would need to be put in the public domain.. I mean national identity database so maybe it is safe this time...

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Spooky stuff

I mean underfunded bio-labs that let stuff leak out. I don't know what they are called in the UK, but over here on the fat lazy side of the pond we have something called class5 labs. You know, the ones that don't actually exist, really, we don't have any. If one of those were to spring a leak....well its really hard to type with what is the mushy remains of what were once fingers. Spend some money, keep the nasties in the jars. Think airborne ebola in a bacterial vector. But, hey, since they don't really exist, no worries, right.....

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Anonymous Coward

not suprised

With the strength of the animal rights types, armchair moralists, and people who hear the word bio and think it has something to do with deoderant. Assigning proper funding to such facilites is a death knell for a political party.

Alot like the whole nuclear thing.

No, all our tax money goes on fluffy "climate change research" exactly what that is I'm not sure but I think it has something to do with an oarthadox religion of somekind.

Funny thing today, after a years research climate change fluffy types have said we should take flood defence seriously... How about we just stop building on flood plains and bulldoze places that are already built on them? That would fix the flooding "problem." O well (building on flood plains and then being shocked that places flood, man that's some funny s--t.)

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Silver badge

What's different?

This report would read more or less the same in terms of lack of funding and governmental management for any branch of research. The last time the govuk had any time or money for scientists was during world war II and only then because anything to give us an edge was to grabbed at. Let's face it , the average ( or even higher than average) MP's understanding of science would make a tabloid reader look overeducated. UK research has been sliding backwards ever since the last war , where govuk funding and support is concerned . The gravy train I see so often referred to in these pages when talking about scientific research, certainly doesn't exist in UK government circles. Just have a look in the jobs pages of the New Scientist magazine any week.

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Pirate

Nuclear Power

This might appear off-topic, but if these organisations cannot keep small amounts of substances confined securely, what hope do we have with Nuclear Power Plants?

We were "lucky" with this incident that it managed to be contained reasonably rapidly, but if a similar incident occurred with a nuclear reactor, the whole of Europe might be affected (I believe farms in UK are still suffering the effects of Chernobyl).

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Thumb Down

oh oh!

strategic overview - the 2 words scientists hate to see. Fund held 'until the results of the DIUS strategic review on bioscience are published', and when they do arrive they'll probably be cut due to a reshuffling (sorry, streamlining) of the research councils which always works as a nice little smokescreen (operating costs are huge, don't you know!).

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Paris Hilton

Poobright

<quote> Unsurprisingly there were also shortcomings in the funding for the system, particularly for ongoing maintenance. So it’s no surprise that the UK’s most recent foot and mouth outbreak was down to something as mundane as a leaky drain at Pirbright.

The committee made a number of recommendations, including the shocking idea that there should be “complete clarity” over who is in charge of biosecurity, “especially” on sites of “mixed ownership or sponsorship such as at Pirbright”.

Such a “controlling mind” must be “clearly identified and be expected to manage the risks that it creates”, the committee said.

And, into the bargain, the committee reckons “the Government should know the location, capacity and capability of all high containment laboratories in the UK”.<unquote>

Answers on a CD and please send in a stamped envelope this time!

Uhngh... And addressed.

(C/O Victoria left luggage, Dartmouth.)

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Pirate

Scary

<quote> And, into the bargain, the committee reckons “the Government should know the location, capacity and capability of all high containment laboratories in the UK”.<unquote>

So the gov.uk does not know where all the labs are or who is running them?

Now THAT is really scary!!

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Jobs Halo

The price of progress

The fact is that insufficient money is spent on building and maintaining all our industrial or science facilities. It makes no matter whether this is a biological or nuclear. Porton Down was very much a ramshackle collection of tatty old building the last time I saw it.

As the US astronauts say "Just remember you are sitting on 20 thousand moving parts made by the lowest tenderer ".

Grumpy Old Git

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Dead Vulture

@Nuclear Power by AC

"(I believe farms in UK are still suffering the effects of Chernobyl)"

In that case you would be absolutly wrong. Even 10 meters from Chernobyl there were no effects to wildlife or plantlife. Its an ATOMIC AGE myth. In all 59 people died for effects likly caused by the Chernobyl incident compared to the expected death count of 4000-75000. All the deaths were amongst the first cleanup people at the site.

(Dead birdy cause i hope thats what will happen to ATOMIC AGE! Myths)

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@ Lars

Wow that's news to me. Sources, please.

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Boffin

@Peter Depledge

I believe Lars is referring to this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2005/sep/06/energy.ukraine

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Flame

@Lars

Lars, given the weight of evidence around the Chernobyl incident (as opposed to whatever "conspiracy theory" you're trying to promote) your comment marks you out as either ignorant or a stooge for Big Nuclear. So which one is it? One makes you look stupid, the other makes you look despicable. Your call!

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Bronze badge

Bio-death-lab-tsar

Candidates should apply in their own handwriting

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@AC

While reactor leaks might be extremely nasty in the local area, they are rather easier to detect than escaped pathogens. And when dispersed , they are nowhere near as fatal. And most importantly of all, escaped radionucleides are not self-replicating (quite the opposite in fact).

Thousands of people may have had a decade or two cut of their lives because of Chernobyl, but that's a damn site better than the likely consequences of a similarly catastrophic containment breach at a bio-warfare laboratory.

Or to put it another way. There is such a thing as a small reactor leak. There is no such thing a small breach of bio-containment.

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@Lars

Many estimates are probably wildly above the actaul death toll. And your number is correct if you take into account only those who died of the immediate effects of large radiation doses.

Most of the people who died as a result of Chernobyl, however, didn't die for years to come and eventually succumbed to radiation induced cancers. The results of the Chernobyl disaster were quite nasty and, while they've pretty much stopped effecting us by now, they should not be underestimated.

More importantly, the odds of a severe accident with a nuclear powerplant are almost neglible. And even then, almost all of the possible scenarios end with a ruined reactor and anybody inside the containment vessel taking a substantial radiation dose. Outside the reactor containment vessel there are no effects. Modern pebbel bed reactors are built so that even if absolutely everything stops working, the reactor will just sit there being really damned hot.

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Gold badge
Joke

@Remy

"..... the reactor will just sit there being really damned hot."

Ace! You sort out a demonstration, I'll bring the long forks and marshmallows.

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Black Helicopters

@ Lars

Hmmm....if you are quoting the Guardian then you may want to have a look at this...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2006/mar/25/energy.ukraine

The helicopter, because the UN are clearly in a conspiracy cover-up...

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Bronze badge

Bacteria and radiation

We're in a natuarl environment full of both.

Some bacteria (and viruses) are nasty enough our immune systems can't cope.

There is evidence that we're a lot more tolerant of low levels of radiation, and the model used to set safety standards is pessimistic. Erring on the side of caution isn't a bad thing, as long as we recognise that we're doing that.

We're being reckless about bio-lab safety, and running scared of nuclear. Check the radiation output of a coal-fired power station. Bird-flu, anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

@lars

>In that case you would be absolutly wrong.

Here's the first hit on google I found to contradict your contradiction:-

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/3049759.stm

---

BTW I'm not trying in any way to side-line bio safety. I just thought I would widen the goalposts a bit. Seems to have raked up a bit of controversy anyway.

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Silver badge

@Lars

Absolutely?

I absolutely suggest you go and visit this site:

http://www.kiddofspeed.com/chapter1.html

Oh, and I absolutely try not to be an armchair expert when I've never had any contact with the problem.

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@ Will Godfrey

http://www.kiddofspeed.com/chapter1.html

I'd not visited this website previously. I agree with Will - you absolutely must visit this website. It makes very sobering reading.

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Stop

@Bob Young, @Will Godfrey and all the rest.

What is wrong with all you people? If you insist on visting that motorcycle site, at least go the MAIN PAGE http://www.kiddofspeed.com/ , where you can read the tosh claiming that although it was all made up, it was done to make the world a better place. Or you can google "chernobyl motorcycle hoax".

As for those welsh hill farmers, their sheep were't growing tentacles or dropping dead. They were placed under restriction by MAFF, and even if they exceed the radiation limit that only means they need to be grazed in the lowlands until they drop under the limit. Whether the radiation limit of 1000Bq/Kilo actually make sense or not is never discussed, but it makes a lovely talking point for the anti-nuclear lobby, just like the oh-so-lethally contaminated Irish Sea - which produces lots of lovely seafood you can eat every day of your life without making a material difference to your radiation dosage. Just because the nuke industry is trying to pick the taxpayers pocket doesn't mean you all need to blindly swallow whatever you're spoon-fed by Greenpeace et al.

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Flame

@Trygve

The main page says this:

"After "Elena" brought this story to light, everyone that claims to be an expert has come forward identifying it as a hoax or a fraud."

I'm not sure that this is "the tosh claiming that... it was all made up", but the various hoax sites seem to limit their claims about the "made up" bits to her riding a motorcycle around and that she has a well-connected father - they do not appear to dispute that the area around the power station is contaminated or that a very large number of people were exposed to very high doses of radiation. (I've seen artistic liberties covered by various documentaries on Chernobyl, but none of them seem to undermine many of the basic observations reported on that site.)

As for the contaminated Irish Sea, I note that Norwegian governments of all colours haven't been particularly happy about Sellafield's output, but if you and Lars hail from that neck of the woods, perhaps you're two of the very few people happy with the output getting into the food chain.

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Silver badge
Stop

@Trygve

I can't speak for any others, but I'm not aware of there being anything 'wrong' with me. Nor am I aware of the page of 'tosh' you refer to. I have Elenors main page permanently bookmarked. I am aware of *claims* of hoax (in which case it is the most extrodinarily complete, skilled and detailed one). I am also aware of her continued writings which I find consistent and thought provoking.

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Wildlife around chernobyl

(which sounds like it could be rude to me...)

You know why wildlife is thriving there? Because humans aren't living there. Our depradations are far more dangerous to the continuing life of animals than nuclear fallout. Serious defects cause the early death. Less serious ones are much more common but don't remove animals before they get a chance to breed.

We kill them because we want to build there, or we consider them pests or we take that which they would feed on themselves and starve. All of which ensure that the next generation is restricted.

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Dead Vulture

Will Godfrey

YHBT. HYL. HAND

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