Sep 082002
Authors: Kelly Gillen

The Fort Collins Centers for Disease Control lab, located on the CSU Foothill Campus, helps to diminish American concerns about bioterrorism and fatal disease. However, some say without several renovations, its comfort may be false.

Allegations have been made the lab in Fort Collins has less-than-ideal working conditions, perhaps making it unsafe for workers as well as community members.

CSU owns the 31,000-square-foot building that the CDC lab occupies. The university leases it to the government for $50,000 per month. The building’s14.7-acre site is located northwest of Hughes Stadium.

U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Loveland, is encouraging the new facility.

“[A new building] is vital. The old facility is just worn out,” Allard said.

He said the additional demands being made on the building are more than the facility can handle. He added that the lab cannot do what needs to be done with the resources it now has.

Ken Olson, director of CSU’s Anthropod-borne Infectious Disease Lab, agreed a new facility is needed.

“I wouldn’t call [the CDC lab] unsafe, but in order to meet the needs of modern research, they need a new building,” Olsen said.

The AIDL is also located on the Foothills campus and collaborates with the CDC in their work on infectious diseases. Olson cited needed improvements such as more room to alleviate overcrowding, modern labs, updated containment facilities and insectaries.

Some concerns have been raised by nearby residents that the lab is a threat to the community. Olson said when AIDL built a new facility in October, 2000, it conducted an effective open house with community members and expects the same community acceptance for the CDC lab.

“These are professionals, they have the best architects, it’s a well thought out project,” he said.

Relief may soon come for the decaying facility. The Senate approved H Res 3448, the Public Health Security Bioterrorism Response Act, in May. This legislation provides a $300 million budget for construction and replacement of CDC facilities around the country.

If the money comes for a new building, it is most likely to be located on the Foothills campus. CSU support is also likely.

“I think the new facilities will be safer than the old ones,” said Brett Latulippe, a junior psychology major. “I don’t see any danger so I think this could be beneficial for Colorado State; especially since we are seeing more of West Nile and other diseases right now.”

Sara Marshburn, a sophomore communications major, emphasized the importance of the educational aspects of the lab.

“The more educated we are, the better off we are to combat diseases in the future,” Mashburn said.

Allard and Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Fort Collins, have introduced an appropriation bill to get $72 million of HR 3448 to Fort Collins for the lab’s renovation.

“The (Bush) administration has expressed strong support for the lab in Fort Collins,” Allard said. Both Allard and Schaffer are hopeful the bill will pass during the current congressional session.

“The Fort Collins CDC Vector-Borne Infectious Disease Lab is on the front lines of America’s Comprehensive bio-defense effort,” Schaffer said in a statement released in May. He also referred to the passage of the bill as “a victory for both America and Colorado.”

The CDC lab expansion will “help CSU continue to be a competitive research institution,” Allard said.

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