Meeting Yields Mixed Results
POSTED: 3:41 pm MDT August 17, 2010
UPDATED: 4:04 pm MDT August 17, 2010
BETHESDA, Md. -- Gov. Bill Richardson met with officials at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland on Tuesday to discuss his concerns regarding the agency's plan to transfer the chimpanzees from the Alamogordo Primate Facility to a facility in Texas for medical research.
Richardson reiterated his call to have the chimps permanently retired and to turn the Alamogordo facility into a sanctuary for the primates.
Richardson said the meeting was both a success and a failure.
"They were gracious, they were polite, but they held fast to their position and I'm going to hold fast to mine," said Richardson.
The Alamogordo Primate Facility is operated by Charles River Laboratories and located on Holloman Air Force Base. According to the agreement with Holloman, no research may be conducted on the primates while they are at the facility. The lab's contract with NIH is set to expire in May 2011, at which time NIH plans to transfer the chimps to Texas to continue medical testing on them.
Richardson also stated that he believes the National Academy of Sciences should do an independent review of policies regarding the use of chimps for medical research.
"I think It is important to find solutions to hepatitis C, but there are other ways to do it rather than testing chimpanzees," said Richardson.
Richardson said there was good news to come out the meeting. Once the chimps are transferred to Texas, the 40 jobs that were in jeopardy at the Alamogordo facility will be saved.
"We made some progress," said Richardson. "They agreed to keep the jobs through 2011. They were going to stop the contract on May of 2011, but they assured me there will be full employment."
Richardson said the fight is not over.
"I'm going to keep pressing, there are other congressional ways to deal with this," said Richardson. "I'm going to push that the Alamogordo facility be a permanent retirement facility managed by nonprofit entities."
So far, the federal agency has moved 15 of the chimps from Alamogordo. They plan to move the remaining 185 some time next year.
• July 26, 2010: Battle Brews Over Future For Research Chimps
• July 26, 2010: Group Tries To Stop Alamogordo Chimp Transfers