Strictly off limits to the public, Plum Island is home to virginal beaches, cliffs, forests, ponds -- and the deadliest germs that have ever roamed the planet. Lab 257 blows the lid off the stunning true nature and checkered history of Plum Island. It shows that the seemingly bucolic island in the shadow of New York City is a ticking biological time bomb that none of us can safely ignore.
Based on declassified government documents, in-depth interviews, and access to Plum Island itself, this is an eye-opening, suspenseful account of a federal government germ laboratory gone terribly wrong. For the first time, Lab 257 takes you deep inside this secret world and presents startling revelations on virus outbreaks, biological meltdowns, infected workers, the periodic flushing of contaminated raw sewage into area waters, and the insidious connections between Plum Island, Lyme disease, and the deadly West Nile virus. The book also probes what's in store for Plum Island's new owner, the Department of Homeland Security, in this age of bioterrorism.
Lab 257 is a call to action for those concerned with protecting present and future generations from preventable biological catastrophes.
This strong first effort by New York lawyer Carroll centers on a U.S. government biological research center devoted to studying such exotic and virulent diseases as African swine fever, Rift Valley fever, foot-and-mouth disease and West Nile virus. Plum Island is quietly nestled a mere two miles off of Long Island, 85 miles from New York City, and Carroll argues convincingly that the island is dangerously insecure. Based on sedulous research into declassified government files and interviews with Plum Island scientists and employees, he offers clear and convincing evidence that Plum Island is rife with the potential for a catastrophic disaster either from an accident or, equally frightening, terrorist action. Carroll raises two chilling questions: Is there a connection between Lyme disease and Plum Island research? (Old Lyme, Conn., the location of the disease's initial 1975 outbreak, is close to Plum Island.) And what about West Nile virus, which also suddenly appeared in close proximity to Plum Island? Carroll offers clear descriptions of the dangers inherent in studying deadly viruses that could infect untold numbers of humans, disrupt the food supply or cripple an entire industry dangers heightened by a lack of even minimally adequate security. The author acknowledges that the times demand that the U.S. have a research facility like the one at Plum Island and ends this provocative book with a list of reasonable, well-conceived suggestions on how to make the research lab safe, or at least safer. Readers will hope that someone takes notice. 16 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. (On sale Feb. 14)
Customer ReviewsSee All
Intriguingly written, horribly biased
At the very beginning of the book, the author talks about the need to remain unbiased and present only the facts when dealing with a subject such as this. However, the author clearly forgets this in 600 pages of contradictory and incredibly biased summary of Plum Island's existence as a germ research center. The facts he does present are so tainted with his negative bias that it throws everything he writes in question.
For instance, in one chapter he lists all of the failings of former director Dr. Callis; yet, in the very next chapter, he paints Callis in a more positive light when compared to the regime that replaced him.
I tried to finish reading the book, and I got within 75 pages of the ending, but I finally became too frustrated to continue. I am a biologist, and the title and subject of the book intrigued me. I had a very pleasant experience reading "Demon in the Freezer," about smallpox and anthrax, and I had hoped for a similar experience with this book. I was very disappointed, and consider this a waste of time and money. Reader discretion advised.
An excellent and accurate depiction of how our government views it's citizens as disposable. For all of us who live in the shadow of Plum Island I hope the public servants stop turning a blind eye to this potential time bomb.