Several weeks after it was initially proposed, the Fresno City Council passed a new ordinance that is intended to provide greater transparency and oversight to any new infectious disease labs seeking to open up in the city.
The ordinance is in response to the secret Reedley biologics lab that contained various infectious diseases and bioengineered mice.
Driving the news: Thursday, the council passed the Infectious Disease Lab Accountability and Transparency Ordinance, which was proposed by Councilmembers Miguel Arias, Garry Bredefeld and Nelson Esparza.
- Per the ordinance, any person or group looking to operate an infectious disease lab in Fresno will have to first obtain all proper local, state and federal licenses.
- Operators must also provide notice to the city that they intend to open a lab before applying for any permits to operate.
- The city will then notify all residents and businesses within 1,000 feet of the proposed location that an infectious lab is being considered.
- Violators could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
- The ordinance will take effect in 30 days.
What they’re saying: “This Ordinance will help in providing full transparency and accountability to make certain that infectious labs such as the illegal bio lab discovered in Reedley will not be able to operate unless they have received all appropriate permits, licensing, and the public is fully informed about their operation,” the councilmembers said in a statement. “This will ensure greater protection for the public and improve communication between government agencies.”
- The trio also called on the Fresno County Board of Supervisors to enact similar legislation to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the future.