Community Liaison Committee (CLC)
National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL)
Boston University Medical Center (BUMC)
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
9:30 am. * Evans Seminar Room 112A
Dolly Battle; Glen Berkowitz; Christopher Brayton; Michael Kozu; Sandra Silver; Ronald Morales, Director,
Research Safety, Director, Environmental Health & Safety Core, NEIDL; Ronald Johnson, Operations
Manager, Facilities Core, NEIDL; Ronald Corley, Ph.D., Professor & Chair, Department of Microbiology;
Associate Director, NEIDL; Kevin Tuohey, Executive Director, Research Compliance; Carla Richards,
Director, Community Relations, BMC/BU Med Campus
Ron Morales and Ronald Johnson gave a presentation on the alignment and integration between the
Environmental Health and Safety and the Facilities Cores at the NEIDL. Morales discussed key
components of integrated safety management which includes planning and development, implementation
and operations, performance and assessment and continuous improvement and review.
Johnson gave examples of the integrated safety process approach between OEHS and Facilities which
involves preventative maintenance based on the manufacture’s recommended service intervals,
implementation of a computerized maintenance management system (e.g., schedule maintenance
activities, track and document), and redundant equipment that allows for maintenance while the
laboratory is in operation. Berkowitz asked for clarification on which types of equipment were not
redundant and Johnson stated that air terminals, office space and some mechanical equipment were not.
Morales and Johnson gave an overview of the organizational support structure and staff for the integrated
team. Discussion was held on whether current staffing was sufficient and Morales and Johnson stated
that current staffing levels and support are consistent with current needs. Additional resources and
manpower may be needed once the facility becomes operational and those potential needs are included
in staffing plans developed for a fully functional building.
Johnson and Tuohey reported on the Certificate of Occupancy from the City. One additional test – stair
pressurization – needs to be completed.
Corley and Tuohey gave an update on the NEIDL timeline as NIH recently announced a new schedule for
the completion of the Risk Assessment. Tuohey mentioned that the Blue Ribbon Panel has engaged the
National Research Council to review the risk assessment at key points along the way. The anticipated
timeline, as detailed in a recent update to the court, has the process being completed in Spring / Summer
CLC members pushed for concrete dates for completion of the regulatory/legal processes and opening of
the building. Corley and Tuohey explained that it is not possible to give specific dates because there are
many unknowns at this point, including when the actual risk assessment will be completed. Berkowitz
requested a copy of a timeline outlining specific steps and dates BU anticipates. Tuohey advised that he
would clarify the expected timeline further at the next meeting.
CLC members questioned what scientists and researchers who have been hired are doing while the
NEIDL is not operating and Corley stated that much of the work that scientists that have BSL-3 or BSL-4
projects do actually takes place at BSL-2 containment, and they are moving ahead with this work until
they need to work with the actual pathogen in a BSL-4 environment. In those instances, BU is currently
paying for scientists to try to utilize labs around the world, at least in the short term; these labs have made
it clear this is not a long-term solution.
Berkowitz and Silver proposed whether, given the extreme delays in the project thus far and going
forward, there has been or could be an effort to open the BSL-3 or BSL-2 laboratories within the building.
Battle strongly disagreed with this option and stated that opening the facility, at any level, would be in
violation of the state court’s ruling. Battle stated that opponents have a right to have their former
questions about safety and siting answered by the courts before the building opens. Members discussed
and differed in opinions on the desirability of opening and operating all but the high containment
laboratories at the NEIDL.
Berkowitz stressed the importance of having the Blue Ribbon Panel engage both the National Research
Council, who wrote a very critical report on the last NIH risk assessment, and opponents, who have been
critical of risk assessment findings all along, in preliminary reviews and discussions of the current risk
Silver questioned whether the CLC should meet less frequently given project delays that suggest the
NEIDL is about two years away from a possible opening date. The issue will be addressed during the
CLC discussion on public participation.
Due to limited time, discussion on public participation was tabled until next month.
Richards asked CLC members to complete and return a ‘Visitor Access Request Form’ and a ‘CORI
Request Form’ in order to participate in an upcoming tour of the NEIDL. Berkowitz stated that he did not
understand the rationale for conducting a CORI check/review of driving records for entrance into the
NEIDL and requested a meeting with the individual(s) under whose authority the requirement exists. Kozu
stated that in light of Berkowtiz’s concerns, he will hold-off on completing and returning his CORI form
until the issue is resolved.
Richards mentioned that the open nomination period for recruitment of members to fill three positions on
the CLC may be extended by another 30 days. If that is the case, advertisements will once again be
placed in the five local community newspapers.
11:00 a.m. Meeting adjourned