Visconti Calls for a Recess During Presentation on Biolab Safety Regulations

Two things remain apparent on the issue of biolab safety at the life science center being planned as part of HYM’s spectacular development of the Suffolk Downs site.

One is that the issue of which biolab safety level [the levels range from 1 to 4) will be implemented in the laboratories is very heated, and two is that there are many questions still to be addressed.

The Revere Board of Health invited Sam Lipson, director of environmental health for the Cambridge Public Health Department, to speak at Monday’s Revere City Council meeting. Lispon certainly impressed all with his knowledge and expertise on the topic. Lipson, who holds bachelor’s and master’s of science degrees wide-ranging Linkedin resume attests, Lipson, from Cal-Berkeley and UMass Boston “oversees the enforcement of local and state regulations pertaining to hazardous chemical, biological, and mineral exposures within the City of Cambridge.”

With MIT and Harvard in its midst and many research laboratories inside the city, Cambridge is biolab central in the region, giving Lipson a unique and vital perspective on the issue of biolab safety.

Lipson was present at the meeting to not only offer a comprehensive presentation, which he did admirably, but to answer questions from the City Council.

But when a person in the audience disrupted the meeting just as the Council was poised to ask questions, City Council President Gerry Visconti asked Revere Police officers to escort the individual out of the Council Chambers. Visconti then wisely called for a recess (which became 30 minutes) before all attendees were allowed back into the Chambers for the resumption of the meeting.

By that point, Lipson had exited the building and Visconti referred the matter to Council Patrick Keefe’s zoning subcommittee for further review.

Most attendees left the meeting at that point, with some gathering outside to express their opinions on animal rights in organized, peaceful fashion, as two Revere Police officers stood professionally nearby on the steps of City Hall’s side entrance, ably securing the scene.

Most everyone agreed that Visconti had acted correctly in summoning the assistance of police officers inside the Council Chambers. Other Revere Police officers and State Police officers also arrived to maintain order and they were effective.

Visconti said he was hoping that the Council would get the opportunity to ask questions to Lipson pertaining to the plans for biolabs at the Suffolk Downs site.

“Unfortunately, the meeting was disrupted, and that prevented the Council from asking questions, and he [Lipson] ended up leaving,” said Visconti. “At this point, we’re not sure if he would be amenable to a return visit.”

In the end, Visconti sent the matter to the zoning subcommittee, who will discuss the matter further and make its recommendations to the full City Council.

Interestingly, the current level of Biosafety in the Revere ordinances is for Level 3, to which many, including Council members, have expressed their opposition.

But as Monday night’s unusual chain of events showed [with a guest speaker leaving before he was able to answer questions], the issue of biolab safety – and what biosafety level will be instituted in the Revere ordinances – is still a controversial one.

(Information from Linkedin pertaining to Mr. Lipson’s academic credentials and director’s position in the Cambridge Health Department was used in the compilation of this story).

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