The book “Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory” by Christopher Carroll provides true nature, exact details and thoroughly examined and checked history of Plum Island. It is necessary to outline that findings presented in the book significantly contribute the evidence that government does have many secrets and doesn’t want them to be revealed.
Thus the author appears to be a real pioneer revealing shocking facts and true facts about the island and serious diseases. The author is rather persuasive, because he uses logical arguments, conclusions and facts to defend his position. The narrative of the book flows smoothly and follows chronological order. Thus it is apparent that Carroll has succeeded both as pioneer of the problem and as talented writer. (Carroll 2004)
The author shows in the book that Plum Island “on the edge of the largest population center in the United States is a ticking biological time bomb that none of us can safely ignore”. (Carroll 2004) It is necessary to mention that the book bases its evidence on the innumerable number of government documents, in-depth interviews with people and certainly access to Plum Island itself.
In the beginning Carroll admits that “this is an eye-opening, suspenseful account of a federal government germ laboratory gone terribly wrong”. (Carroll 2004) Therefore, the author leads readers through secret world presenting horrifying revelations such as seriously infected workers, outbreaks of viruses, biological meltdowns, etc.
The author is really outrageous with the fact that infected workers were refused to be assisted in diagnosis by Plum Island brass. Further, the author proves that the area waters are highly contaminated with periodic flushing of raw sewage. Moreover, Carroll finds associations between the outbreak of deadly West Nile virus in 1999 and Lyme disease in Plum Island.
Actually the book is through exploration of the secret world of bacteria, viruses and microbiology. Carroll illustrates how the Department of Agriculture in the USA runs the Plum Island for last fifty years and states that that is “far more than wholesome grade-A eggs and the food pyramid”. (Carroll 2004) It is necessary to note that author provides new and original overview of the Island stating that is exists in the age of bioterrosism because of improper policy of the Department of Homeland Security. The book is interested in safety and security and thus it calls for action in order to show protest from biological catastrophes for future generations.
Actually “Lab 257” provides new understanding of Plum Island and calls it “a biological Three Mile Island”. It is known that since 1950 this place is of great interest for researching animal diseases. Plenty of outrageous and disturbing events and news are revealed in the book involving escaped germs and lax security as well as sewage pills. Carroll thinks that some of the found viruses are potent bioterrorist weapons and thus the access to them should be limited. And it is Christopher Carroll who touches this problem for the first time. (Carroll 2004)
The author believes that it is his task to reveal the secret and scandal-hidden history of the Plum Islands, because, according to his mind, the nation should be aware of horrors taking place there. Nevertheless, some moments in the book are tangled. The book reveals lots of talks with past and current workers, “filing Freedom of Information Act applications to get classified material and visiting the island itself six times”. (Carroll 2004)
The history of Plum Island is traced from its very beginning as a research facility for warfare of germs till its becoming a part of the Department of Agriculture. The author involves in the books descriptions of not only mysterious island, but also descriptions of animal diseases, bio-warfare researches, etc. He states that the island has relived the very top of its researches as well as its fall. Nowadays the island is a run-down and dangerous place with “little in the way of security, even after the events of 9/11 put the island under the watch of the Department of Homeland Security”. (Carroll 2004)
US Department of Agriculture has done certain significant work in order to protect livestock of America. For example, the scientists are responsible for creating the first vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease. Carroll states that positive moments can’t exist without negative consequences and thus he says that the Department has done their best to hide the breakdowns of researches. Thus the successful researches are plagued and since 1970s have been seriously criticized.
Despite certain successful discoveries, negative effects are apparent: leaking air filters, escaping sewage, etc. what is more awful is that outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease is caused by lab’s herds. It is argued in the book that “things recently went from bad to worse when many of the jobs were privatized, leading to dangerous cost-cutting”. (Carroll 2004)
Further, it is necessary to mention Carroll’s recounting of the Hurricane Bob on the Island. Thus Carroll possibly hints that “the storm unleashed a doomsday scenario – one that never actually materialized”. (Carroll 2004) However, the thinks that Hurricane has positive impact compared with other outrageous revelations. Carroll assumes that scientists are responsible for setting loose the Lyme disease as well as Nile virus in 1991. Furthermore, they are to blame for new scourges taken place in the United States of America. The evidence in the book is presented by Carroll’s personal observations and investigations.
Special attention in the book is paid to Lyme disease. For example, the author hints that “the Nazis experimented on Lyme disease as a weapon of germ warfare, and that after World War II; one German researcher had some dealings with the founders of Plum Island”. (Carroll 2004) Scientists in the Plum Island are though to have studied tick-borne diseases. Firstly, the disease was revealed in Lyme, Conn, in 1970s. Scientists thought hat it was caused by either deer or birds carried Lyme-infected ticks. Plum Island is situated near the Lyme and thus it is infected as well.
However, other evidence suggests that bacteria caused Lyme disease has existed in American forests even before the scientists appeared in Plum Island. Factually, it is indicated that “these bacteria probably evolved in North America and only later spread to Europe”. (Carroll 2004)
However, Michael Carroll mocks at the provided idea of possible Lyme history, but “the fact is that many diseases have made this sort of crossover into humans”. He thinks if to disturb the ecosystems, the parasites are sometimes pushed out to make humans their own home.
For example, malaria was a serious scourge many years ago, but then the first African farmer made an attempt to clear the forests and to create “homes” for parasites – he decoded to breed mosquitoes. Further, HIV is chimpanzee viruses which have got into bloodstreams of human in 20th century because of slaughter of chimps for meat.
Thus Carroll asserts that the gravest danger nowadays is bioterrorim, because it is able to create many diseases. Bioterrorism involves climate change, globalization and deforestation. Therefore, the author thinks that Plum Island is necessary place, because SARS and anthrax have to be defeated. Thus the lab has to be kept safe and secure. (Carroll 2004)
No unturned stone is left in the book “Lab 257”. The author thoroughly investigates the Plum Island’ history and illustrates workings of the lab. Special attention is paid to operations on Plum Island. The strength of the book is a variety of information gathered from different sources ranging from interviews with employees to appropriate government agencies. Carroll skillfully assembles all the materials into research being easily readable and remarkable.
Carroll is certainly talented researcher and writer and his book is one of the most shocking pieces of non-fiction. The author thinks that media will become interested in his “chilling expose of a potential catastrophe” and thus government will be forced to take measures to provide sanitary and safe conditions. (Carroll 2004) If government pays no attention to the problem, people will be threatened to become new victims.
Summing up the material provided it is necessary to admit that Carroll has managed to meet with many people who have made the Plum Island: researchers, scientists, present and pass employees, animal handlers, etc. Furthermore, people “of the surrounding areas who never wanted the lab facility there in the first place” are also involved in the book narrative. (Carroll 2004)
The author provides strong evidence of serious breaches of protection and security and states that such ignorance may lead to viruses’ releases. The consequences would be apparent: devastation of forests and spreading of diseases. It is known that many workers in the island are ill will diseases which are still unidentified by any doctor.
Furthermore, the book is filled with suggestions that “West Nile Virus and other such diseases were actually introduced to U.S. soil via Plum Island”. (Carroll 2004) Thus mishaps could have been responsible for spreading of anthrax, mad cow disease and Rift Valley fever viruses. Carroll also admits that terrorist could have bee provided with lots of opportunities to easily access the island because of improper security systems. Carroll provides evidence that release of deadly viruses and toxins is caused by mishaps on the island. Thus the author concludes that humans nowadays are not safe at all. (Carroll 2004)
Carroll, Michael C. (2004).Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory. New York: William Morrow.