Saturday, June 21, 2008

A ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses

From The Associated Press

Report compares costs of animal disease outbreak
By TED BRIDIS

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government acknowledged that an outbreak of one of the most contagious animal diseases from any of five locations being considered for a new high-security laboratory — an event it considered highly unlikely — would be more devastating to the U.S. economy than an outbreak from the isolated island lab where such research is now conducted.

The 1,005-page Homeland Security Department study, released Friday, calculated that economic losses in an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease could surpass $4 billion if the lab were built near livestock herds in Kansas or Texas, two options the Bush administration is considering. That would be roughly $1 billion higher than the government's estimate of losses blamed on a hypothetical outbreak from its existing laboratory on Plum Island, N.Y.

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A simulated outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease — part of an earlier U.S. government exercise called "Crimson Sky" — ended with fictional riots in the streets after the simulation's National Guardsmen were ordered to kill tens of millions of farm animals, so many that troops ran out of bullets. In the exercise, the government said it would have been forced to dig a ditch in Kansas 25 miles long to bury carcasses.

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