Thursday, September 30, 2004

Leaders old, new on hand as new space frees labs

By Dan Klepal
Enquirer staff writer

Michael Leavitt, U.S. EPA administrator, at the dedication of a $6 million building in Corryville.
CORRYVILLE - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's newest and oldest administrators were on hand Wednesday to dedicate a $6 million glass-and-steel annex building directly behind the EPA's Andrew Breidenbach Environmental Research Center.

The annex is office space for administrative staff, but it will free up 35 laboratories which were being used as offices inside the old building.

The research center is one of the agency's main facilities. It is a place where much of the scientific work is done in connection with setting health standards for pollutants, Superfund and other hazardous waste cleanups - along with research about how to protect and respond to chemical or biological terrorist attacks on buildings and water systems.

Michael Leavitt, the former governor of Utah and current EPA administrator who assumed the post in November, said the new building is fitting for an agency that has seen its role in research expand with newfound threats from terrorism.

"The EPA's mission is providing a measure of safety through science," Leavitt said.

Bill Ruckelshaus, the agency's first administrator from 1970 until 1973 who was invited back to head it under President Reagan from 1983 until 1985, was instrumental in Cincinnati winning the original research center in a spirited competition with Houston.

He attended the groundbreaking of the main facility 32 years ago.

"This facility, and the one behind it, is dedicated to the idea that through research we can benefit mankind and the environment we all share," Ruckelshaus said, before giving Leavitt some advice.

"Being administrator is like being a groundskeeper at a cemetery: There's a lot of people under you, but none of them are listening," he said.


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