The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

Objection to UKCMRI planning application for a research centre in Brill Place London NW1 | December 16, 2010

London Borough of Camden

Development Control Team

London, WC1H 8br

12 October 2010

Dears Sirs,

Application Ref: 2010/4721/P

Associated Ref: 2009/2565/NEW

Dear Sirs,

Objection to the proposed UKCRMI Medical Research Centre

Context

I write as someone who would be one of those most directly affected by the development for I live the width of a narrow road (Ossulton Street) from the proposed UKCMRI research centre site.

The submission consists of 9 pages of objection with 55 pages of supporting documents. The supporting documents are simply there to substantiate the references made to them in my objection.

I am willing to appear before the planning committee to give further evidence in person.

When considering the planning application, please do so with this question in your mind: if this centre was being built in such close proximity to your own home would you want it there?

The wholesale breach of the Camden planning brief

The decision to sell the land to a consortium consisting of the Medical Research Council (MRC) , Cancer Research UK, University College London (UCL)  and the Wellcome Trust breaches the Camden planning guidelines for the site in the most fundamental manner because it is a single use development rather than the mixed development, including much needed affordable housing, envisaged by the planning brief.

Not only does the Camden planning brief clearly lay out the intention for this to be a mixed development,  but the offer document – “Somerstown St Pancras A New Chapter” – produced by the DCMS to guide bidders does the same, viz.:

“On the basis of the local planning policy guidance, the land outside of that to be retained for British Library use, has clearly defined potential for a significant mixed-use development. As a starting point the local planning policy guidance could support a scheme of approximately 50:50 commercial and residential development with approximately 50% affordable housing.” (see fuller extracts from the offer document at document 1).

Most of the 27 groups which showed interest in the site submitted plans which took account of the planning brief. It is difficult to understand how the  “value-for-money” and “public benefit”  tests which were supposedly the only criteria for deciding who was to be the successful bidder, could lead to the UKCRMI bid being accepted in front of other bidders who offered considerably more money for the site and devised plans which took attempted to satisfy the Camden planning brief (see document 32).

It is also telling that as recently as July 2008 the Temperance Hospital site was still considered suitable for the research centre, viz.:

‘The MRC’s property chief Keith Tucker said in a letter to the Town Hall that the process would produce planning guidance that was “undermined, its legality questioned and little or no weight would be given to it by developers”. Mr Tucker added: “If our plans for the UKCMRI [UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation] at Brill Place are not successful then the National Temperance Hospital site will be used for that purpose; either as a refurbishment or redevelopment.”’ Camden New Journal 31 July 2008 (see document 2).

This severely undermines the consortium’s claim that only the Brill Place site will do. As for the existing Mill Hill site, this is a fifteen minute train ride from Kings Cross. The consortium’s claim that this presents an insuperable barrier to cooperation between London based universities and other medical researchers is self-evidently absurd. The centre should be built at Mill Hill – with the massive political backing it has received it is most improbable that planning permission would be refused for that site.

The Mill Hill site is 47 acres. Ask yourself why they need a site of less than 4 acres when they have one of 47 acres already in their possession. A plausible answer is that the driving force for the centre on this site is prestige and vanity. In short, the consortium wishes to substitute an ego trip for the 15 minute rail trip.

Disruption

This email from the UKCMRI’s director of communications was sent to me on 12 10 2010. It details their position on most of the disturbance issues:

Dear Mr Henderson,

It was good to meet you last night. I promised to send you details of the numbers of vehicle movements to the site during construction. A standard productive day is assumed to be ten hours. For the bulk of the project it is anticipated there will be an average of 180 vehicle movements per day.

For the LBC, permitted hours of noisy works are as follows:

• Mondays to Fridays – 8am to 6pm;

• Saturdays – 8am to 1pm; and

• Sundays and Bank Holidays – No noisy work

The building will take two years to build and two years to fit out.  The anticipated date of completion is late 2015.

Once constructed, servicing traffic will use Brill Place . The use of an off-site Consolidation Centre means that vehicular activity can be minimised with the expectation that the average number of vehicles entering the service area within the site will be in the order of 25-45 per day.

I hope this is useful.

Best wishes,

John Davidson

UKCMRI Communications Director

UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation

215 Euston Road

London

NW1 2BE

The estimated building time of four years is more than long enough to have a massive building site a few yards away from a residential road containing hundreds of flats and maisonettes. But we all know from bitter experience  that large building projects hardly ever come in on time, for example, the building of the British Library went on for more than thirty years as the original finishing date was inexorably extended. (When I moved into Levita House in December 1986 I was told that the building would be completed by 1988. The library was not finished until the late 1990s.) Taking the general history of large building projects into account, it is not unreasonable to suspect the research centre will take 6-8 years to build.

Because of their experience with the British Library,  many Ossulton residents are only too aware of the effects of such a site:  heavy machinery operating with considerable noise and a great deal of fine particulate debris tossed into the air and the continuous hubbub that any large building site generates. Because several levels of the building will be underground,  the amount of particulate matter will be much greater than for buildings constructed without vast subterranean accommodation for the amounts of debris excavated will be truly massive.  This type of disturbance will be happening six days a week according to Mr Davidson.

The disturbance would be enhanced substantially if a service road into Ossulton Street is allowed. The street is narrow with a single lane in each direction. Even now any HGV vehicle on its own struggles to use the road during normal working hours, especially if it has to turn out of the road, because there is so little room to manoeuvre.

A site the size of the proposed centre will require large numbers of HGVs coming and going every day. If they move during normal working hours they are bound to cause traffic jams and a great deal of commotion caused by going backwards and forwards to execute the turn necessary to bring the vehicle onto the research centre site. (The service road could be put at a shallow  angle to facilitate HGV entry to and from Ossulton Street without such manoeuvring,  but that would be at the cost of being able to gain entry only from one end of Ossulton Street because of the very sharp angle created on one side by sloping the road.)

The HGV issue is particularly pertinent to the question of disturbance,  because of the massive amount of debris to be removed as a consequence of the research centre’s underground levels. If this is to be removed from the site and the four year building schedule is maintained, the debris would presumably  have to be removed within a year because the detailed building schedule is for two years’ work on the external building and two on the interior construction. To remove such a large amount of debris in such a short time would require HGVs coming and going very frequently.  Once the excavation is complete there will still be a constant flow of HGV traffic to transport the material required to build the centre and to remove waste generated by the building work.  There will also be the transport in and out of the heavy machinery required to excavate the site and then build the centre.

There would also be a considerable increase in non-HGV traffic, because the workers will want to travel to work by small van or car and many of the sub-contractors will use  both HGV and non-HGV vehicles to transport their equipment and materials.

Taking all this into account, I suspect Mr Davidson’s estimate of 180 movements a day is a substantial underestimate.

Even after the completion of the building the traffic will be much heavier than it is now if the service road is retained. This will be because (1) the large number of people working in the research centre, many of whom will need or want to get to work by car and (2) the need to deliver goods and services to the centre and remove material from the centre.

If there is no service road into Ossulton Street, there will still be a considerable increase in traffic to reach an entrance in Brill Place.

In assessing the traffic implications, please bear in mind that every vehicle entering the site has to make two trips: one in, one out. I mention this because a previous application by the British Library to have a service road into Ossulton Street tried to get away with projected traffic increases based on a one way trip for each vehicle.

The research centre would also inevitably be the target of animal rights protestors, both during its building and after completion. Even when “peaceful”, such demonstrations are generally rowdy and violence frequent.

Finally, the centre is likely to provoke terrorist threats  resulting in evacuations of the centre and quite possibly the immediate area around the site.

It is indicative of UKCMRI’s dismissive and condescending attitude towards the local population that at no time have they proposed making any disturbance payments to those who would directly affected by the research centre, during and after building.

Security

Security issues alone should prevent the research centre being built.  The centre would be a prime terrorist target  because (1) there are three iconic sites in the closest proximity – the Eurostar terminal, the British Library and the Medical Research Centre itself; (2) the nature of the work to be undertaken at the Centre – the public information released to date suggests that it will be handling dangerous material and (3), all three of the major British political parties have given it enthusiastic public support which both raises its public profile and attaches it to national politics -hit the centre = hit the politicians – (see document 23).

Whether as a result of a terrorist attack or a failure of bio-security the consequences of an escape of  dangerous biological agents would be severe, both in terms of any contamination of people and by the economic effects on London (and by extension the country) which the fear generated by the escape of toxins would bring.

I have been attempting without success to get answers about the security arrangements for the proposed research centre since 2007. (For my dealings with the consortium and its individual members on security and other matters see documents 10-22).

My requests have been turned down on the grounds that this would breach security. This is a bogus ground for refusal because I deliberately did not ask for detailed operational accounts of their security, which would compromise security,  but general issues such as whether the security staff will be employed directly by the centre; whether the staff will have been raised in Britain (vetting foreigners is in practice impossible); how cleaners (normally a weak point in security because they work at night when security is minimal); how toxic materials will be transported in and out of the centre and whether the security staff would be armed, something absolutely necessary if there is a threat of terrorist attacks especially if they involved suicide bombers.

The real reason why the consortium will not comment is they do not have a clue about how their security will work. The UKCMRI CEO John Cooper gave the game away at a meeting convened by St Pancras and Somers Town Planning Action and  held on 4 10 2010 in the Somers Town Community Centre when he said that their security arrangements would not be decided for three years. It is absurd to allow people who have not considered in detail  the security issues involved before submitting a planning application to be granted that application, not least because the design and situation of the building should be taking these issues into account as one of the primary drivers of the design.

The security, both bio and anti-terrorist,  is particularly compromised by the intention of the consortium to allow scientists who are not employed by the consortium to carry out research. These people could be either from non-profit organisations or private firms:

“There will be dedicated space for technology transfer and additional lab space to enable the findings of the research teams within the centre to be developed and translated into clinical applications by scientists from pharmaceutical companies and partners.” The Bliss Project Concept and Vision (see document 7)

This raises two security problems: the vetting of such people and the lack of a single authority responsible for the security of the centre.   This is precisely what happened at Pirbright which was split between government and private business with no one in overall control (see document 9). Come the foot and mouth outbreak of 2007 no one would take responsibility with both sides blaming the other.

Thorough vetting of those who come from abroad would be impracticable and vetting of anyone born and raised in Britain but who has spent substantial periods of time abroad problematic. These considerations would be relevant to both scientists and other staff, many of whom would be foreign or have spent long periods out of the country.

I would also draw the planning committee’s attention to the fact that Islamic extremism is seen by the government as a growing problem in British universities (see document 5) and that one of the consortium’s members – UCL – has been recently had a student-  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – who went on to try to commit a terrorist act (see document 6).

The limited access proposed for the public would also be a weak link in the security.

Things are no more promising on the bio-security side. At the meeting of 4 10m 2010,  John Cooper promised that nothing more dangerous than influenza viruses would be in the centre. However, this  was meaningless because, as he very grudgingly admitted, there would be legal bar to this policy  being changed at some point in the future. Moreover, ‘flu viruses can be extremely toxic, vide the 1918 epidemic which swept Europe and caused more deaths than had occurred in military action during the Great War.

There is good reason to believe that toxins officially classified as more dangerous than influenza will be used. The MRC site in Mill Hill – the site Brill Place is meant to replace –  has 11 laboratories licenced for level 3 biohazards and one licensed for level 4 biohazards (see document 3).  The license for level 3 work allows the following to be used for research:

Biohazard Level 3: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level.

The consortium is applying for level 3 licenses for the proposed medical centre. Once they have these they can work on any of the viruses and bacteria listed above regardless of what is promised now.

Presumably whatever work the MRC has been conducting under the level 4 licence will continue. If it comes to the new centre work on these toxins would be covered:

Biohazard Level 4: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.

If the level 4 work is not to come to the proposed research centre the consortium’s claim that their work has to be done at the Brill Place site

is discredited. If it does come to the site then risk is raised considerably. As to whether it  will come to the site, answers given by John Davidson at a meeting held 11 10 2010 in the Ossulton TRA Hall  provide a strong pointer. Questioned by myself, he stated that the Mill Hill facility would definitely be closed if and when the centre was built and he could not rule out all the Mill Hill work being moved to the Brill Place site including the level 4 risk work.

The DCMS were certainly led to believe that the centre would deal with viruses other than influenza, viz.:

“4. MRC anticipates that some £205 m of additional investment will be secured from consortium partners for the development of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation. This is investment which would otherwise be Lost to the public purse. This additional investment in the work of the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) will support the delivery of high quality research on:

“ The origins of the AIDS epidemic, detecting tuberculosis (TB) infection, variations in the structure of the bird flu virus H5N1 all of which could Lead to more effective breakthroughs in drug development. Scientists at NIMR have also:- (With the University of Hong Kong) isolated the gene responsible for sensory development in the inner ear, which may lead to significant advances in the development of treatments for the deaf and those with severely impaired hearing; and determined the structure of the enzyme that regulates cellular energy levels which could lead to new drugs for type II diabetes, an illness that affects more than two million people in the UK. Taken together, these important results emerging from the UKCMRI could substantially improve the quality of life and allow those who benefit from the findings to continue to make their important contribution to the economy.” (See DCMS Q and A – document  4)

Every large organisation which has security issues always says their security is very tight and time and again the security fails. Pirbright said  exactly this before they had to admit that they were at fault. The members of the consortium say this. The MRC recently were involved in lax procedures which resulted in the death of a patient, viz.:

“Daily telegraph

Man dies in government cancer drug trial A man about to get married has died in a government-funded medical trial after receiving seven overdoses of drugs.

By Jon Swaine

Last Updated: 7:50PM BST 21 Sep 2008

Gary Foster, 27, was repeatedly given twice the amount of chemotherapy drugs he should have been prescribed. He was due to be married this month. Reports have said his death was caused by an error in the setting up of the trial on the computer system at University College London Hospital (UCLH). A second patient was affected by the same mistake, but survived. When the MRC suspected patients had been given overdoses, instead of calling the hospital immediately it wrote a letter – which a nurse at UCLH failed to open until two days after Mr Foster had died…” (see document 8).

Gordon Brown’s interference with the bidding process

From documents I have obtained through FOI requests it is clear that Gordon Brown played a key role in the decision to sell the land to the UKCMRI. This unambiguously contaminated the legality of the sale because the bidding process was not conducted fairly with all bidders treated impartially and the decision decided on the criteria of “value for money” and “public benefit”. You cannot have that if the Prime Minister is pressing for one of the bidders to win. The failed bidders could well have a case for compensation for the time and money they expended on a futile quest. It is also pertinent to ask whether a criminal case for fraud might be mounted.

The pertinent extracts from government documents are:

Treasury report prepared 1 August 2007: “The PM is also most recently stated that he is very keen to make sure that Government departments are properly coordinated on this project and that if there is a consensus that this is indeed an exciting project then we do what we can to make it happen. This is extremely helpful from a DIUS and MRC perspective, but, formally a NIMR relocation project in London has yet to receive Lyons approval from Treasury (for either the first planned NTH site or the possible BL site).” (see document 24)

This is very significant because here is Brown interfering not only before the sale but before the final date for bids.

Treasury memo to James Purnell Margaret Hodge, Jonathan Stephens,Ros Brayfield  18 September 2007  ” We need to agree an orderly and appropriate process for selling the land, given the public value bidders, other Departments’ interest and the likelihood that the Prime Minister might wish to take an interest too.” – this is Civil Service speak for we know this is the PM’s pet project – and “We then fairly characterise the two public value bidders and the best commercial bid (or bids, if they differ significantly in what they propose) to Ministers and No 10 for a decision.” (See document 25)

Also in document 25 we have “DIUS economists be invited to assess the public value of the medical research bid. We will need some such calculation if we sell at a discount. DCMS should not do this as we should display some neutrality between bidders…”  So there you have it not actual neutrality just enough to give a specious appearance of the quality.

Memo from DCMS 27 11 2007: “Jonathan spoke to Jeremy Heywood this morning. Jeremy said he needed the bid to be agreed by next Wednesday – 5 Dec (or Thursday latest) as PM wanted to get MRC in then (or possible public Announcement …… JR said he thought the offer was sent to us yesterday – have checked but nothing in JSs post or email – JH will chase. JH also said he would go back to HMT to see what more they can do, but that ultimately PM may have to arbitrate.” (see document 26)

Memo from DCMS 29 11 2007: “Thanks for this. The SoS has seen your note and is content. Grateful if you could keep us updated on whether the PM will be announcing this next week as part of his science speech.” (see document 27)

Treasury memo 4 December 2007: “Thanks for everyone’s help and support in making the announcement tomorrow happen. The PM is truly delighted that departments have been able to work together to secure this huge opportunity for Britain  (see document 28)

Treasury memo to James Purnell 4 December 2007 “3. The Prime Minister has taken an interest in this proposal; and is expected to announce the deal tomorrow at a breakfast seminar (8-8.45 am).” (See document 29)

There are also two briefing documents which demonstrate Brown’s involvement:

BRIEFING NOTE FROM POLICY ADVISERS DATED 12 NOVEMBER 2007 TO THE PRIME MINISTER COPIED TO  No 10  OFFICIALS. THE NOTE WAS ENTITLED: PROJECT BLISS – CREATING A WORLD-LEADING MEDICAL RESEARCH FACILITY IN LONDON (see document 30)

BRIEFING NOTE FROM NO 10 POLICY ADVISER TO THE PRIME MINISTER DATED 27 NOVEMBER 2007 COPIED TO NO 10 OFFICIALS

ENTITLED “MEETING WITH PAUL NURSE ON BLISS PROJECT” (see document 31)

Final thoughts

If this project goes ahead those responsible for granting planning permission will have to shoulder the responsibility for any terrorist act on the centre or any bio-security leak. The dangers of both are blindingly obvious.  There will be no excuse for saying we did not know.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Henderson

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8 Comments »

  1. […] A very large research laboratory, The Francis Crick Institute,  is being built on land behind the British Library in Kings Cross, London – https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centr…. […]

    Pingback by Adminstrative justice: Gordon Brown misbehaved in the same general way as Jeremy Hunt « Living In A Madhouse — April 27, 2012 @ 12:29 pm

  2. […] A very large research laboratory, The Francis Crick Institute,  is being built on land behind the British Library in Kings Cross, London –  https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centr…. […]

    Pingback by Leveson Inquiry – Politicians and the Press « Living In A Madhouse — May 3, 2012 @ 7:42 am

  3. […] Natalie Bennett  has been elected leader of the Green party in England and Wales (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19462474). I know  Miss Bennett through my participation in a campaign to prevent the building of the Francis Crick  Institute (FCI),  a gigantic research laboratory. The primary objections to the Institute (formerly the UK CENTRE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION or UKCRMI) arose from the fact that research would be done on dangerous  diseases at  an  unreservedly inappropriate site – the FCI is being built  just behind the British Library and next door to the  new Eurostar  terminal at St Pancras.  Those wishing to discover more should go to my blog  https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centr…. […]

    Pingback by The new leader of the Greens knows how to keep mum « Living In A Madhouse — September 9, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  4. […] Natalie Bennett  has been elected leader of the Green party in England and Wales (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-19462474). I know  Miss Bennett through my participation in a campaign to prevent the building of the Francis Crick  Institute (FCI),  a gigantic research laboratory. The primary objections to the Institute (formerly the UK CENTRE FOR MEDICAL RESEARCH AND INNOVATION or UKCRMI) arose from the fact that research would be done on dangerous  diseases at  an  unreservedly inappropriate site – the FCI is being built  just behind the British Library and next door to the  new Eurostar  terminal at St Pancras.  Those wishing to discover more should go to my blog  https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centr…. […]

    Pingback by The new leader of the Greens knows how to keep mum « The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation — September 9, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  5. […] 6. The biohazard and terrorist dangers. These include the use by the Consortium of a non-existent classification of biohazard level 3+. They have been persistently challenged on this and never given a straight answer.  The section on security in this post covers the issue – https://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centr… […]

    Pingback by Elite Mischief – Gordon Brown and The Francis Crick Institute | England calling — November 11, 2012 @ 4:44 pm

  6. […] This article confirms what I said in my objections to the Francis Crick Institute Laboratory presently being built in King Cross, viz:   “Security Security issues alone should prevent the research centre being built.  The centre would be a prime terrorist target  because (1) there are three iconic sites in the closest proximity – the Eurostar terminal, the British Library and the Medical Research Centre itself; (2) the nature of the work to be undertaken at the Centre – the public information released to date suggests that it will be handling dangerous material and (3), all three of the major British political parties have given it enthusiastic public support which both raises its public profile and attaches it to national politics -hit the centre = hit the politicians – (see document 23). Whether as a result of a terrorist attack or a failure of bio-security the consequences of an escape of  dangerous biological agents would be severe, both in terms of any contamination of people and by the economic effects on London (and by extension the country) which the fear generated by the escape of toxins would bring. I have been attempting without success to get answers about the security arrangements for the proposed research centre since 2007. (For my dealings with the consortium and its individual members on security and other matters see documents 10-22). My requests have been turned down on the grounds that this would breach security. This is a bogus ground for refusal because I deliberately did not ask for detailed operational accounts of their security, which would compromise security,  but general issues such as whether the security staff will be employed directly by the centre; whether the staff will have been raised in Britain (vetting foreigners is in practice impossible); how cleaners (normally a weak point in security because they work at night when security is minimal); how toxic materials will be transported in and out of the centre and whether the security staff would be armed, something absolutely necessary if there is a threat of terrorist attacks especially if they involved suicide bombers. The real reason why the consortium will not comment is they do not have a clue about how their security will work. The UKCMRI CEO John Cooper gave the game away at a meeting convened by St Pancras and Somers Town Planning Action and  held on 4 10 2010 in the Somers Town Community Centre when he said that their security arrangements would not be decided for three years. It is absurd to allow people who have not considered in detail  the security issues involved before submitting a planning application to be granted that application, not least because the design and situation of the building should be taking these issues into account as one of the primary drivers of the design. The security, both bio and anti-terrorist,  is particularly compromised by the intention of the consortium to allow scientists who are not employed by the consortium to carry out research. These people could be either from non-profit organisations or private firms: “There will be dedicated space for technology transfer and additional lab space to enable the findings of the research teams within the centre to be developed and translated into clinical applications by scientists from pharmaceutical companies and partners.” The Bliss Project Concept and Vision (see document 7) This raises two security problems: the vetting of such people and the lack of a single authority responsible for the security of the centre.   This is precisely what happened at Pirbright which was split between government and private business with no one in overall control (see document 9). Come the foot and mouth outbreak of 2007 no one would take responsibility with both sides blaming the other. Thorough vetting of those who come from abroad would be impracticable and vetting of anyone born and raised in Britain but who has spent substantial periods of time abroad problematic. These considerations would be relevant to both scientists and other staff, many of whom would be foreign or have spent long periods out of the country. I would also draw the planning committee’s attention to the fact that Islamic extremism is seen by the government as a growing problem in British universities (see document 5) and that one of the consortium’s members – UCL – has been recently had a student-  Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab – who went on to try to commit a terrorist act (see document 6). The limited access proposed for the public would also be a weak link in the security. Things are no more promising on the bio-security side. At the meeting of 4 10m 2010,  John Cooper promised that nothing more dangerous than influenza viruses would be in the centre. However, this  was meaningless because, as he very grudgingly admitted, there would be legal bar to this policy  being changed at some point in the future. Moreover, ‘flu viruses can be extremely toxic, vide the 1918 epidemic which swept Europe and caused more deaths than had occurred in military action during the Great War. There is good reason to believe that toxins officially classified as more dangerous than influenza will be used. The MRC site in Mill Hill – the site Brill Place is meant to replace –  has 11 laboratories licenced for level 3 biohazards and one licensed for level 4 biohazards (see document 3).  The license for level 3 work allows the following to be used for research: Biohazard Level 3: Bacteria and viruses that can cause severe to fatal disease in humans, but for which vaccines or other treatments exist, such as anthrax, West Nile virus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, SARS virus, variola virus (smallpox), tuberculosis, typhus, Rift Valley fever, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, yellow fever, and malaria. Among parasites Plasmodium falciparum, which causes Malaria, and Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes trypanosomiasis, also come under this level. The consortium is applying for level 3 licenses for the proposed medical centre. Once they have these they can work on any of the viruses and bacteria listed above regardless of what is promised now. Presumably whatever work the MRC has been conducting under the level 4 licence will continue. If it comes to the new centre work on these toxins would be covered: Biohazard Level 4: Viruses and bacteria that cause severe to fatal disease in humans, and for which vaccines or other treatments are not available, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, H5N1(bird flu), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, hantaviruses, Lassa fever, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and other hemorrhagic diseases. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a Hazmat suit and a self-contained oxygen supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a Level Four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, autonomous detection system, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a Biosafety Level 4 (P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release. If the level 4 work is not to come to the proposed research centre the consortium’s claim that their work has to be done at the Brill Place siteis discredited. If it does come to the site then risk is raised considerably. As to whether it  will come to the site, answers given by John Davidson at a meeting held 11 10 2010 in the Ossulton TRA Hall  provide a strong pointer. Questioned by myself, he stated that the Mill Hill facility would definitely be closed if and when the centre was built and he could not rule out all the Mill Hill work being moved to the Brill Place site including the level 4 risk work. The DCMS were certainly led to believe that the centre would deal with viruses other than influenza, viz.: “4. MRC anticipates that some £205 m of additional investment will be secured from consortium partners for the development of the UK Centre for Medical Research and Innovation. This is investment which would otherwise be Lost to the public purse. This additional investment in the work of the National Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) will support the delivery of high quality research on: “ The origins of the AIDS epidemic, detecting tuberculosis (TB) infection, variations in the structure of the bird flu virus H5N1 all of which could Lead to more effective breakthroughs in drug development. Scientists at NIMR have also:- (With the University of Hong Kong) isolated the gene responsible for sensory development in the inner ear, which may lead to significant advances in the development of treatments for the deaf and those with severely impaired hearing; and determined the structure of the enzyme that regulates cellular energy levels which could lead to new drugs for type II diabetes, an illness that affects more than two million people in the UK. Taken together, these important results emerging from the UKCMRI could substantially improve the quality of life and allow those who benefit from the findings to continue to make their important contribution to the economy.” (See DCMS Q and A – document  4) Every large organisation which has security issues always says their security is very tight and time and again the security fails. Pirbright said  exactly this before they had to admit that they were at fault. The members of the consortium say this. The MRC recently were involved in lax procedures which resulted in the death of a patient, viz.: “Daily telegraph Man dies in government cancer drug trial A man about to get married has died in a government-funded medical trial after receiving seven overdoses of drugs. By Jon Swaine Last Updated: 7:50PM BST 21 Sep 2008 Gary Foster, 27, was repeatedly given twice the amount of chemotherapy drugs he should have been prescribed. He was due to be married this month. Reports have said his death was caused by an error in the setting up of the trial on the computer system at University College London Hospital (UCLH). A second patient was affected by the same mistake, but survived. When the MRC suspected patients had been given overdoses, instead of calling the hospital immediately it wrote a letter – which a nurse at UCLH failed to open until two days after Mr Foster had died…” (see document 8).” My full objection to theFCI is athttps://ukcmri.wordpress.com/2010/12/16/objection-to-ukcmri-planning-application-for-a-research-centr… […]

    Pingback by Many recent safety breaches at UK labs handling lethal viruses | The United Kingdom Centre for Medical Research and Innovation — December 6, 2014 @ 7:57 pm


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