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Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory Paperback – August 9, 2005
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About the Author
Michael Christopher Carroll spent seven years researching and writing Lab 257. A native of Long Island and an avid outdoorsman, Carroll is now general counsel of a New York-based finance company. He lives on Long Island and in New York City.
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Plum Island is quite possibly a necessary evil, but the laxity of governmental concern over the safety and security of the nation is unsettling. Lab 257 details a troubled history of a fascinating place which will always be cloaked in shadows. I highly recommend this book because it is meticulously researched and well-written. Be advised though it can enrage, chill, and frighten you.
Granted, most of Lab 257 falls far from revealing autopsies of little green men, mutated humans, or any New World Order plots, the content is significantly disturbing. Yes, the author makes the case that Lyme Disease was spread originally from Plum Island, and that the island's research facility was designed by a Nazi scientist, but that's not what scared me the most.
The waste and mismanagement of the island is appaling, regardless of your own political views. For a facility that houses such dangerous pathogens as Rift Valley fever and foot and mouth disease, it was downright shocking to read just how pathetically the management handled dangerous situations. Even during Plum Island's "golden years," until its privitization, I couldn't believe the problems that were occurring there (holes in the roof, wide open ventilation ducts, peeling paint, etc). One chapter after privitization is entitled "Decline," and I honestly didn't know how it could get worse, but it did: raw, disease infested sewage flooding a lab during a power outage (the workers who prevented a biological meltdown were promptly fired after that incident), nine-to-five unarmed security watching over the facility, employees driving boxes of viruses around in vans, and leaving them at the ferry dock like any parcel. But honestly, the icing was how replacement workers hired by the company running Plum Island ended up stealing a van and other equipment from the facility, while filling in for striking workers. It made me realize that my local McDonalds is run better than Plum Island; at least they'd shut down the Golden Arches if they made this many mistakes.
This would all be amusing if it were a Cohen brothers' movie, but the fact is that Plum Island is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security, located close to some of the most populated areas of the United States. And if Lyme Disease is the only thing that's gotten out of there, then we are truely lucky. After reading this, you'll realize why.
There is a degree of contraversy over the author's sources, or whether his claims are true. But even if you take away the most fantastic, there is enough juicy information in here to ruin your sleep.
Plus, it's well written. As I noted in the beginning, the book is nothing like the dry academic document that I was expecting.
Anyway, aside from wondering if I'm reading science fiction or fact, it was a good book. It was thorough, and in some places, perhaps, a bit dry. There were lots of names to try to remember, but it seemed like a thorough history of Plum Island's biological labs from before World War II until when it was published. The disturbing part of Lab 257 is how unsecure the place is. I was horrified to learn of how lax security and safety measures were/are. I thought that the alleged potential link to Lyme disease was interesting.
But what I really think is that some folks need to figure out where their priorities are. I think safety and security should rank right at the top.
There is some discussion of animal experimentation and euthanasia due to disease outbreaks, but it's not overly graphic. The author discussed tick experiments, PR events for the island to try to drum up support from the local communities, political and bureaucratic games and power-plays, and how the island has transferred hands from the USDA to the Department of Homeland Security. It discussed its ties to the military, and how the labs became corporate-run.
What I found most compelling and interesting were the events that happened during the hurricane that damaged the labs and the personal testimonies from individuals who once worked on the island. The whole book is pretty disturbing (as it says in the subtitle) because of how easy an accidental outbreak could be.
This book does not include discussion about secret alien experiments or the Montauk monster. (At least, I don't recall reading about the Montauk monster, that some people claim is linked to Plum Island.) This book focuses entirely on the history and short-comings/shattered dreams of two labs that revolved around research into human and animal diseases. It also raises questions about the future of Plum Island based on its past mistakes -- should the place be shut down or improved and brought up to standards? I'm glad I got to read it. Just, uh...you know, I'm hoping it's actually non-fiction as I had been led to believe.
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This book also contains information about tests performed on U.S. soldiers and on U.S. soil, as well as many of the documented accidents that have occurred.
However, most egregious (to me) is the mismanagement and lack of oversight that seem to go hand in hand with many "secret" government programs in today's world.
Simply put, if the contents of this book represent what is available to the general public after decades of investigation, what other mishaps have happened that are not available?
I repeat, this book is much more then a history of Plum Island; it is a report on the effects of large lobyist's and the moral bankruptcy of many of our nation's governing bodies.
This is not a riveting read, like a novel with a plot. It's the painstakingly researched story of a germ warfare research lab off the Coast of New Jersey. Many of the diseases, which plague us today are caused by bugs escaped from this lab. Due to the very nature and gravity of his revelations, Christopher Carroll had to back up everything he says with references and sources. The mere fact, that this book is still in print is proof, that Carrol speaks the truth. It is not a light read, and maybe a bit over-researched in parts. But for anyone, who wants to know the truth about germ warfare and its overall implications to all of mankind and nature, this is a must read.