Washington bioterror lab faces closure

Spokane, Wash.'s Spokane County Bioterrorism Lab will be shuttered on July 1 unless it receives $150,000 in funding.

The nearest alternative to the lab, which has handled approximately 70 cases since 2004, including the 2013 Spokane ricin case and the backpack bomb recovered at the 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr., parade, is five hours away, KREM.com reports.

In the 2013 ricin case, the lab was able to positively identify the potential biothreat from samples in approximately four hours - shorter than the time it would have taken to drive across the state to the next closest lab.

The lab previously faced a closure threat in 2013, but the state raised the necessary funds to keep it open. The lab faces a similar threat this year, with Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich asking the county for a $50,000 contribution, with hopes that officials in Spokane Valley and the city of Spokane would also pay $50,000 each.

If the $150,000 is raised, the lab will have enough funding to remain open for another year.

"This is a vital piece of fabric for the community as far as public safety," Knezovich said, according to KREM.com.