Q & A helps frame basic Covance issue

The Chandler Republic
July 28, 2006

Covance Inc., a global biotech company, is planning to build one of its largest research facilities in Chandler and has said animals will be used in some drug tests there. Since those plans were made public last year, animal rights activists from around the world have weighed in against the plan while local economic development experts have touted it as a giant boost to the area's economic diversity.

On July 14, Covance filed a rezoning request with Chandler, a move that starts a lengthy public process that will generate considerable news coverage in coming months. Here are some basic questions and answers involving the issue:

Question: What is Covance?

Answer: It's one of the world's largest drug development services companies, with more than 7,800 employees.

Q: Where do they want to build in Chandler?

A: On 38 acres along the western side of Price Road, between Germann and Queen Creek roads.

Q: What kind of work will go on there?

A: Testing drugs for pharmaceutical companies and chemical ingredients for other products. Animals will be used in some of those tests.

Q: How many people will work there?

Initially about 355, and as many as 1,200 when expansion is complete.

Q: Where are other Covance operations?

A: Its headquarters is in Madison, Wis., but Covance has facilities in 15 states and Canada, 12 European countries, Argentina, China, Japan and Australia.

Q: What groups have come out in opposition to Covance?

A: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal-rights group based in Virginia, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine based in Washington, D.C., and Citizens Against Covance based in Chandler.

Q: What are their objections?

A: Their primary objection is the suspected inhumane treatment of animals used for testing. They cite examples of the company having been fined for violations. They have objected to the potential for these animals to carry diseases and to the possibility that Covance would build an incinerator to dispose of animal carcasses.

Q: What does Covance say about these objections?

A: Company officials say animal testing is part of developing drugs to cure diseases and that the company treats animals humanely. They deny that there would be health risks posed by laboratory animals and say risks from an incinerator would be "negligible" if one were built. They say no decision has been made whether to construct an incinerator in Chandler.

Q: How can I find out more about the opposition groups?

The Web site for the local opposition group is ; PETA's is  and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is .

Q: How can I find out Covance's side?

A: The company Web site for the Chandler plan is .

Q: What have proponents said about the project?

A: They say Covance is a well-respected global company that stands to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to the area and to attract other major biotech employers to Chandler, diversifying the city's economy. They also say the company fills a major need for testing new drugs in the fight against diseases like cancer, Alzheimer's, multiple sclerosis and deadly infections.

Q: What has to happen before it can build?

A: The City Council must vote to rezone the land and approve the development plan.

Q: What's going on between Covance and the city right now?

A: Covance filed its zoning application and development plan July 14. City planners are reviewing documents and are expected to set public meetings in September or October. After those meetings, the Planning and Zoning Commission will be asked to vote on a recommendation for approval or disapproval. That recommendation then would go to the City Council for a final decision. The process takes months.

Q: How can I get details about Covance's applications with the city?

A: Because of the public interest in the case, the city is posting all documents on the municipal Web site as they are filed: .

Q: How can I let elected officials know what I think about Covance's plans?

A: You can e-mail elected officials at: mayor&  or call (480) 782-4636


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