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Poultry lab funding fix falls short of $4 million needed
House committee allocates $1.5 million to remedy design flaws that have plagued facility
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Massive ventilation units on the roof of the Georgia Poultry Lab Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, produce low frequency vibrations that have made it impossible to maintain pressurized rooms causing leaks. - photo by Scott Rogers

Nearly $1.5 million has been approved to start fixing problems at the Georgia Poultry Lab in Hall County by the state House Appropriations Committee, but it’s far short of an estimated $4 million needed for a full remedy.

The funding is part of a $27.5 billion statewide spending package for the 2020 fiscal year, which begins July 1, that House legislators are expected to pass this week.

Design flaws at the Georgia Poultry Lab in Hall County will require $4 million in fixes, Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black told state lawmakers in January.

Black, in a statement to The Times on Thursday, Feb. 28, said he was pleased with this first step to address the problem.

Black added that officials have engaged the original contractor on the project and he is hopeful that the initial $4 million cost estimate will be lowered to help bridge the funding gap.  

The 39,500-square-foot laboratory facility, which opened in January 2015 at the Gateway Industrial Centre business park off Ga. 365 in North Hall County, monitors and tests for diseases, such as avian influenza, and inspects hatcheries to ensure the state’s poultry flock is healthy for consumption.

According to John Groves, a spokesman for the lab, air flow imbalances throughout the facility were discovered and particularly affected a 2,500-square-foot biosecurity, high-containment lab because the facility’s rooftop HVAC system sits directly above it.

The imbalances caused leaks, condensation and broken seals around the lab’s windows.

Groves told The Times last month that poor ventilation is to blame, and that it is a flaw in the design of the building, not in the construction.

FWAJDB, the architectural firm that designed the lab, filed for bankruptcy in 2013, according to state officials.  

The high-containment lab was closed last June after employees began complaining of headaches, nausea and other discomfort caused by a bass-like low-frequency vibration emitting from the rooftop HVAC system.

Operations in other sectors of the facility continue and daily testing of poultry stock has not been affected.

But without fixes, broader complications could arise, severely limiting research capacity and costing even more to remedy, according to Groves.  

The Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission signed off on the design plans, and the Hall County Board of Commissioners agreed to allocate $10 million to build infrastructure at the industrial park so that the poultry lab could be developed. 

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