The Iowa congressman who represents Ames and has lobbied congress to spend more money on the National Animal Disease Center in Ames says he’s “deeply concerned” by a report indicating fluids from diseased animals examined at the center have been flushed down the drain.
Congressman Tom Latham says he wants to “make sure that things are done correctly” at the center. Two “whistleblower” employees at the National Animal Disease Center say after autopsies have been done on diseased animals, left-over fluids are bleached, then flushed right down the drain into the city’s wastewater system. The lab conducts autopsies on animals suspected of having ailments like foot and mouth disease and Mad Cow disease.
Some material from the bodies of animals with Mad Cow contains prions — proteins that are thought to transmit the disease. While the lab was bleaching the liquid waste to get rid of contaminants, that process doesn’t kill prions. Latham says there should be “full disclosure of what threat, if any, has been posed to the environment.”
“My largest concern, obviously, is the health and safety of the citizens to make sure there is no contamination of the water supply,” Latham says. Latham’s also asking the U-S-D-A’s Investigator General to “immediately and fully investigate.” Latham says he wants to make sure everything’s being done in a proper manner.
“Anytime that there are any of kind of accusations like this that affect health and safety I want to make sure that we do everything that we can to see what happened and if there is any cause for alarm,” he says. Latham says at this point, know one knows whether there is any threat to water supplies. The materials flushed down the drain ended up in the Ames waste water treatment facility where the water and whatever is in it are put through a cleansing process, then it’s eventually discharged into the Skunk River.
Latham has been a champion of federal funding for the National Animal Health Center in Ames, and congress recently set aside 462-million dollars to modernize the facilities. Latham plans to talk with top administrators “as soon as possible” about his concerns.