Citizens Against Covance and other Chandler residents gathered Saturday at Metro and Chandler boulevards to protest the impending arrival of global biotech firm Covance Laboratories.
Covance announced Oct. 3 that it would switch locations for its new drug-testing facility to an area in Chandler already zoned for industrial development. Thus, Chandler residents will no longer vote in a referendum in which they could have denied rezoning for Covance’s building site from agricultural to industrial use.
Some residents, however, refuse to accept that there may be nothing they can do now to stop Covance’s arrival.
Protesters Saturday afternoon held signs, reading: “Animal Cruelty Not Welcome in Chandler” and “My mayor wants to expose me to biohazards.”
The majority were Chandler residents, but concerned Phoenix and Mesa residents also joined the group of almost 40.
Michael Boerman of Chandler said he’s not necessarily against animal testing, but he’s against Covance.
“They’re the embarrassment of the industry,” Boerman said.
The company’s initial plans would have placed the laboratory about a quarter-mile from Boerman’s house.
Chandler resident Ken Hawthorne, 23, said the biohazards Covance could produce were his biggest concern, citing the company’s incineration of dead test animals. Protesters argue that carcass incinerators threaten air and water quality.
It’s unclear whether residents’ concerns will fall on deaf ears. Covance senior vice president Wendell Barr has promised to form a residents advisory committee and hold public meetings on their new project.
“There’s nothing for us to hide,” Barr said.
Covance’s new facility will now be built on a 50-acre parcel near Gilbert and Ryan roads in southeast Chandler.