|NEWS RELEASE||July 3, 2007|
Residents Sue City of Chandler Over Covance Animal-Testing Facility
Seven Local Plaintiffs and Physicians Group Accuse City Officials of Improper Collaboration with Covance, Violating State Open Meetings Act, Failing t
CHANDLER, Ariz.—In a lawsuit filed today in Maricopa County Superior Court against the city of Chandler, seven city residents and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) accuse city officials of violating the Arizona Open Meeting Act and city ordinances in allowing Covance Laboratories to build an animal experimentation facility in the Chandler Airpark. PCRM is suing on behalf of its Chandler members.
The lawsuit asks the court to void the building permit and rezoning that enabled Covance to break ground recently on a 300,000-square-foot facility planned for the southwest corner of Gilbert and Ryan roads. The seven local plaintiffs, most of whom live within a mile of the construction site, are concerned about Covance’s poor record on public health and animal welfare issues. The legal complaint notes that Covance has repeatedly imported primates infected with tuberculosis, Ebola, and other dangerous diseases. Covance has also refused to describe how it will safely dispose of the nearly 100,000 drug- and chemical-laden animal carcasses it will generate each year.
“Covance’s animal experimentation facility could expose Chandler residents to hazards ranging from infectious diseases to air and water pollution,” says Dan Kinburn, Esq., PCRM’s general counsel. “Instead of protecting Chandler from these health risks, city officials illegally collaborated with Covance to keep citizens in the dark and out of the decision-making process.”
The complaint includes the following allegations:
- City of Chandler officials participated in non-public meetings about Covance in which they discussed Covance’s plan to secretly abandon its original building site in favor of the rezoned Airpark property in violation of Arizona’s Open Meeting Law. Chandler officials deliberately withheld that critical information from Chandler residents while the Airpark rezoning was underway.
- In violation of state law and the Chandler City Code, Chandler failed to give proper notice of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s July 19, 2006, public hearing, and the City Council’s Introduction and Final Hearings, held on July 27, 2006, and August 10, 2006, respectively.
- The approval of the building permits by the city of Chandler was in violation of its own zoning ordinance because it appears that a huge percentage of Covance’s facility will be devoted to the operation of a kennel/veterinarian clinic. The Zoning Ordinance for the city of Chandler does not allow either of these uses within I-1, the zoning presently applicable to the Airpark Property.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.