All you fans of The Hot Zone, Contagion, and similar tales of biohazardous disaster should check out this rare video tour of an actual BSL-4 facility. BSL-4 (biosafety level 4) is the highest level of laboratory security, designed “for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections, agents which cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which vaccines or other treatments are not available” (thanks, Wikipedia).
Only a handful of BSL-4 facilities exist in the U.S. and they are never open to the public. Richard Preston in his gripping nonfiction thriller The Hot Zone and the movie Contagion both portray the BSL4 setting, but this video gives you the real deal.
The video tour is of the NEIDL, the new National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory, built in an urban setting at Boston University. The fear of an accident leading to release of a deadly agent in the neighborhood has prompted tremendous public resistance to the NEIDL, and continuous legal and political challenges have prevented the facility from actually going into operation as of yet (April 2013). This video is part of the public information campaign designed to show people how the NEIDL works and how public safety will be assured.
I think it’s fascinating, astonishing, and a must-view for any writer who wants to incorporate BSL-4 into a story.