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The Arsenal answer. (Editorial).

EVEN AS SEVERAL FEDERAL agencies are warning of further terrorist attacks against the United States, the Defense Department continues to put off building a vaccine production facility at the Pine Bluff Arsenal.

This indecision has been going on since Operation Desert Storm, when a federal task force concluded that a new government-owned/contractor-operated facility should be built for the production of vaccines for the military. Indeed, Congress already has approved the construction -- the delay comes from the Defence Department.

And now many more Americans are at risk, especially those emergency personal ho would respond to any bioterrorist attack.

In March 1994, an Army Corps of Engineers economic analysis said the Pine Bluff Arsenal was the most cost-effective site for this new research and production facility.

Eight years later, there's no facility at the arsenal and there's only a limited and questionable supply of anthrax vaccines to protect our military personnel or other Americans dealing with a chemical or biological attack.

In the early 1990s, the government chose to contract anthrax vaccine production to a private company -- a decision that justifiably has been criticized, as the Michigan company that was the sole producer of the anthrax vaccine has failed FDA certification tests for several years and stopped production.

Anthrax and smallpox vaccines are only two of many types of vaccines that could be produced at the site. It certainly would be a shot in the arm to the Pine Bluff economy with the addition of a couple hundred or more high-paying jobs, and the arsenal is a secure post that could easily handle the task.

The obvious solution is to build the nearly $400 million facility at Pine Bluff. Issues like this often get pulled into political games, but with all of Arkansas' representatives and senators working to get the facility at the arsenal, let's hope the political winds blow our way.
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Title Annotation:Defense Department continues to put off building a vaccine production facility
Publication:Arkansas Business
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 27, 2002
Previous Article:Case closed. (Whispers).
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