Covance Closing Animal Testing Facility in Chandler

 

Submitted by Karen Michael on 05/03/2012 - 7:18pm

News Update: Covance is shutting down its animal testing facility in Chandler, less than three years after building its lab.  This is good news for animals and Chandler residents Read more


Covance Animal Testing Facility in Chandler

Covance is a private laboratory that has a large animal testing facility in Chandler, Arizona.  Covance does animal testing for its clients, including manufacturers of tobacco, toxic, hazardous and corrosive household products and pesticides. Covance and its predecessors have a poor record on animal welfare and other issues (including bringing Ebola into the US three times). In 2006 the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which oversees animal research labs, cited Covance for serious violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) including physical abuse of monkeys. Covance entered into a settlement agreement and paid a fine for its citations.  More information is included in the ADLA 2006 Newsletter. 

In May, 2007, ADLA, Citizens Against Covance, Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), and other groups spoke out at the Maricopa County Air Quality Department’s hearing on Covance’s proposed air quality permit. We were concerned that the Chandler facility will house approximately 170,000 animals each year, most of which will be killed in experiments, and that Covance has refused to disclose to the public or government agencies how it plans to dispose of its diseased and contaminated animal carcasses. Whether Covance builds its own incinerator, contracts with another crematory, or dumps carcasses in a landfill, it will pollute our community’s environment.  There is simply no good way to dispose of thousands of animal carcasses that have been injected with concentrated amounts of chemicals, including pesticides and experimental drugs. Following the hearing, Covance backed off its plan to build an incinerator. 

In July, 2007, several city residents and PCRM filed a lawsuit  against the city of Chandler. The lawsuit accused city officials of violating the Arizona Open Meeting Act and city ordinances in allowing Covance to build its facility in the Chandler Airpark. Unfortunately the lawsuit was dismissed, and Covance continued its plans to build the lab. 

Covance opened its facility in 2009.  The lab had been open for less than a year when its lobbyists introduced a bill (SB 1159) in the Arizona Legislature that would have exempted animal research facilities from the state animal cruelty law.   

ADLA President Stephanie Nichols-Young testified against the bill in a Senate committee, exposing the fact that Covance was attempting to use the legislative process to exempt itself from state animal cruelty laws.  She explained that Arizona has over a dozen animal research labs that have operated for decades without the need to seek protection from state animal cruelty statutes.  She questioned why this is an issue now and why newcomer Covance is so concerned about animal cruelty violations that it is running a bill to exempt itself from state law.   

Legislators passed the measure out of committee by one vote but expressed concern about its potential ramifications.  It later appeared that the bill was dead, which was confirmed in a pharmaceutical journal in which bill sponsor and committee chair Sen. Steve Pierce stated, “The bill was pulled. The group that wanted me to introduce it changed its mind and doesn’t want to fight right now.”   The article specifically referenced ADLA’s vocal opposition to the bill.

ADLA will continue to monitor the legislature and government records for information and updates on Covance's Chandler facility.