Updates to Nestle/Fryeburg and Syria/Maine virus stories
In today's Portland Press Herald I offer updates on two stories I've been covering.
The first is updating the controversy surrounding the proposed contract between Nestle Waters North America and Fryeburg, Maine's (privately-held) water utility. As reported earlier this month, the case is in jeopardy because of an unusual number of conflicts of interest amongst the regulators tasked with reviewing the case. The key regulatory figure, today's story reports, has postponed a self-imposed deadline to decide if he will recuse himself.
The second is on Maine Biological Laboratories, a firm that shipped Newcastle disease vaccines to Syria in 2001-2002 in violation of federal laws and regulations. As reported last week, Newcastle disease has been the subject of past bioweapons researcher's efforts to create a weapon to use against an enemy's poultry industry. (The disease is not a threat to humans.) But in today's story an expert explains why the form and state of the viruses sent to Syria in MBL's vaccines almost certainly wouldn't have been useful to such researchers.
I am an award-winning journalist and author of American Nations, American Character, Ocean's End, The Lobster Coast, and The Republic of Pirates. I'm a staffer at the Portland Press Herald, where I won a 2012 George Polk Award for my investigative reporting and was named a 2016 Pulitzer Prize finalist.