Lab257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory
William Morrow, February 2004.
Hardcover, 289 pages.
Lab 257 discusses the possibility that Plum Island, an island just off the United States coastline near Long Island, has been used as a secret bioweapon facility. The book also suggests that Lab 257 is responsible for unleashing diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus onto an unsuspecting U.S. population. The government claims the area is an agricultural disease research center which helps protect the nation's livestock from disease and destruction -- not to develop biological weapons against humans.
The book's author, Michael Christopher Carroll, has visited the island several times and has devoted years of his life to uncovering happenings at the secret facility. He explains how at one time our government hired ex-Nazi bioweapons experts to work there shortly after World War II. The lab was later turned over to the USDA and is now oversean by the Department of Homeland Defense. In the book Carroll also explains how breaches in safety or security could have lead to the release of some of the diseases studied there, including Lyme disease and West Nile Virus. He provides photos of outdoor garbage dumps and discusses the damage cause by Hurricane Bob as examples. Although, the author has no smoking gun, he does provide a believable scenario, especially considering that the Lyme disease outbreak was so oddly close to the island. Carroll also suggests that thousands and thousands of ticks capable of carrying Lyme disease were bred on Plum Island. The West Nile Virus may be more difficult to connect to activities at Plum Island because many scientists argue that global warming, New York's popularity as a harbor and mosquitoes' ability to survive winters in New York City's sewers as an alternative possibility to Plum Island. Even if you can dismiss Carroll's research as circumstantial and accept the government's claims that the island is used purely for agriculture livestock protection, there are still questions to be answered. For example, why did Pakistani nuclear scientist Sultan Bashir-ud-Din Mahmood (who met twice with Osama Bin Laden) have information about Plum Island with him when he was arrested in 2001?
Lab 257 is a very interesting and disturbing book that raises questions about why biological testing (even if was meant just for animals) was done so close to such a massive population area and whether or not diseases like Lyme disease and West Nile Virus could be the results of leaks from these biological laborites. Lab 257 also raises legitimate concerns about what could happen if the Island were hit by a terrorist attack or hurricane that released disease and bioweapons onto the us population or agriculture. At a minimum, this book should be a wake up call to those living close to Plum Island to demand extra security or outright movement of the facility altogether.
Note: Michael Carroll wrote an essay about his book and research called Lab 257: Behind the Book.
Lab257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory is available for purchase on Amazon.com
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This review was published in the March-April, 2004 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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