An animal-burning incinerator is not part of New Jersey-based Covance’s plans for a large laboratory facility in south Chandler. But that doesn’t make opponents to the contract lab company’s planned move into the city feel any better.
“Everyone here wants to know how the carcasses will be disposed of,” said Aysha Akhtar, a neurologist and spokeswoman for the Washington, D.C.-based group, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine while at a public hearing Monday.
The organization, which promotes the vegetarian diet, opposes the use of animals in testing.
Akhtar was one of several people opposing Covance’s application for air quality permits from Maricopa County, which would allow it to operate backup generators, a boiler and air-conditioning elements.
The permit is needed for the company to break ground on the project planned in the Chandler Airpark near Gilbert and Queen Creek roads.
More than 150 people attended the hearing at the Chandler Municipal Airport.
Many of Covance’s opponents say there’s little to stop the company from coming back later and applying for a new permit to build an animal crematorium. The company’s other labs use crematoriums.
But Covance officials called those claims by opponents “a smokescreen on their part.”
The company has already announced it will use an outside vendor to dispose of dead lab animals. But the company has not yet decided exactly what vendor it will use, said spokeswoman Camilla Strongin.
And besides, even when Covance makes that decision, the company probably won’t share the information with the public, she said.
“We have an obligation to our vendors not to put them in the line of fire,” Strongin said. “And we’re dealing right now with a vendor that is facing tertiary targeting.”
Covance could later apply for a permit to build an incinerator, Maricopa County Air Quality Department director Robert Kard said, but the company would face the same process it’s going through now, including a public hearing.
“If they were to apply for a permit with us, given the nature of the controversy that we see here before us, we’ve done this with other companies, not just Covance, we would hold a public hearing,” Kard said. “There’s no escaping that, quite frankly.”