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Ebola Island
Galveston National Laboratory

The New York Times paid a visit this week to a national biological defense lab. Scientists there will “do research into some of the nastiest diseases on the planet, among them Ebola, anthrax, tularemia, West Nile virus, drug-resistant tuberculosis, bubonic plague, avian influenza and typhus.”

If that isn't fascinating enough, the lab's “gleaming new building” happens to be located in one of the most unstable types of landform and where hurricanes regularly make a mess of things: the barrier island of Galveston, Texas.

Built atop concrete pylons driven 120 feet into the ground, the seven-floor laboratory was designed to stand up to 140-mile-an-hour winds. Its backup generators and high-security laboratories are 30 feet above sea level.

Says the lab's deputy director, “The entire island can wash away and this is still going to be here.”

A gleaming biological bunker, as impenetrable and monolithic as CIA HQ, a Pandora Box protruding out in a landscape of ruins and shifting sands.

Perhaps the next lab will be on an oil rig?
  • Zanshin
  • October 31, 2008 at 1:26:00 PM CDT
  • Right. Let people know that it's a safe haven from hurricanes, and they'll break into the place next time we have a Katrina. They'll end up getting infected by the supergerms, and then we have a disaster on our hands.

  • November 8, 2008 at 8:21:00 PM CST
  • Now that's good site selection.
    "Where should we house the lab for all the dangerous biological experiments?"
    "Let's put it on an island in the midst of hurricanes' paths."
    Excellent idea. Is Jake Gyllenhaal here yet? Roll the cameras.

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