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Plague Plane Down? FedEx Cargo Included Lab Viruses PDF Print E-mail
Earth News
Thursday, 06 October 2005 14:31
Plague Plane Down? FedEx Cargo Included Lab Viruses

PEJ News
- C. L. Cook - While the world press rings dire warnings against the next Big One, a pandemic potentially as deadly as the infamous 'Spanish Flu' outbreak almost a century ago, the circumstances of the fatal crash of a FedEx plane today in Winnipeg raises disturbing questions about the transport of deadly pathogens and the threat it represents. 


Plague Plane Down? 
FedEx Cargo Included Lab Viruses
C. L. Cook

PEJ News
October 6, 2005

Getting Winnipeg's Level 4 bio-containment laboratory wasn't easy. Locals were concerned at the prospect of sharing the neighbourhood with the world's deadliest germs. Experts assured the labs were impenetrable; no virus would escape their custody. But accidents happen.

Of course, it doesn't matter how safe the laboratories are when viruses are sent out the door. The Winnipeg facility was embarassed earlier this year when a FedEx courier truck involved in a downtown accident was later revealed to be carrying ebola, tuberculosis, and hepatitis bacilli from their facility. Now, a second incident involving the transport through population centres is again raising questions. 

Local Federal Member of Parliament, Pat Martin expressed concern with current procedures, saying: "There are weak links here, and we won't tolerate it in our community." Adding, "We want an inquiry and we want better security measures." Viruses and other hazardous materials are routinely transported this way in Canada.

In a lightning fast threat assessment of the crash site, Transportation Safety Board investigator Ross Peden declared the public safe: "There is no threat to the public, or workers." Peden claims the frozen vials containing a variety of viruses, including Herpes and Flu strains, were destroyed in the fire following the crash.

The Cessna came down, while attempting to land at Winnipeg's airport when it experienced trouble shortly after take-off. The pilot, Nancy Chase-Allen was killed in the crash, but managed to put the plane down on traintracks, avoiding buildings and the morning rush hour traffic. The cause is still unknown, but weather may be a factor, as Winnipeg has suffered heavy rains and snow squalls this week. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 October 2005 14:31

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