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Seven Local Residents, PCRM File Lawsuit Against City of Chandler

draining a monkeyAfter Covance Laboratories took another step toward the construction of a giant animal-testing facility in Chandler, Ariz., seven city residents and PCRM filed a lawsuit July 2 in Maricopa County Superior Court against the city of Chandler. The lawsuit accuses city officials of violating the Arizona Open Meeting Act and city ordinances in allowing Covance to build its facility in the Chandler Airpark.

The lawsuit asks the court to void the building permit and rezoning that enabled Covance to break ground recently on the 300,000-square-foot facility planned for the southwest corner of Gilbert and Ryan roads in Chandler.

The lawsuit consists of three main allegations:

  • Chandler city officials participated in nonpublic meetings about Covance in which they discussed Covance’s plan to secretly abandon its original building site in favor of the rezoned Airpark property, violating Arizona’s Open Meeting Law.
  • In violation of state law and the Chandler City Code, Chandler failed to give proper notice of two public hearings.
  • The approval of the building permits by the city of Chandler was in violation of its own zoning ordinance because it appears that a huge percentage of Covance’s facility will be devoted to the operation of a kennel/veterinarian clinic. The zoning ordinance for the city of Chandler does not allow either of these uses within the zoning presently applicable to the Airpark property.

The seven local plaintiffs, most of whom live within a mile of the construction site, are concerned about Covance’s poor record on public health. The legal complaint notes that Covance has repeatedly imported primates infected with tuberculosis, Ebola, and other dangerous diseases. Covance has also refused to describe how it will safely dispose of the thousands of drug- and chemical-laden animal carcasses it will generate each year.

“Covance’s animal experimentation facility could expose Chandler residents to hazards ranging from infectious diseases to air and water pollution,” said Dan Kinburn, Esq., PCRM’s general counsel. “Instead of protecting Chandler from these health risks, city officials illegally collaborated with Covance to keep citizens in the dark and out of the decision-making process.”

Residents are also concerned about Covance’s poor track record regarding animal welfare issues. Undercover footage from another location shows lab personnel violently throwing terrified monkeys into their cages, jamming feeding tubes into restrained monkeys’ noses, and stuffing them into plastic restraint tubes. The company was recently investigated and fined by the United States Department of Agriculture based on documented allegations of striking, choking, and tormenting primates at its Virginia facility.


PCRM Online, August 2007

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