In the perilous world that mayoral challenger Maura A. Hennigan paints in a new television commercial, Mayor Thomas M. Menino is poised to allow biological weapons in the city, and earthquakes, flooding, and terrorist attacks are imminent.
''Unprepared," which is scheduled to began airing today on cable and major broadcast networks, pans across a city skyline and a voice says: ''Real threats gather on the horizon -- epidemics, natural disasters, terrorist attacks," and asserts that Boston is unprepared.
''And now Tom Menino wants to put biological weapons in your backyard," the voice continues as an unflattering image of the mayor appears and the words ''Bio Hazard" in large red letters flash across the screen.
It is a reference to Boston University Medical Center's plans to build a bioterrorism laboratory in the South End. The laboratory, which Menino supports, would study anthrax, the Ebola virus, and other deadly biological agents. Researchers would develop defenses against attacks with biological weapons.
Menino has said the lab would bring jobs to the city and aid in the fight against terrorism.
The ad also accuses Menino of failing to develop an adequate emergency response plan.
Jacque Goddard, a Menino campaign spokeswoman, said Boston regularly reviews its emergency plans with the federal government.
''Councilor Hennigan is not talking about what she will do for the city. She is frightening people," Goddard said. ''It's never good to frighten people. It's good to give people the facts."
Hennigan said the ad was meant to make voters aware of emergency preparedness issues. If elected, Hennigan said, she would call on international and national experts during the first six months of her administration to help create a fail-safe disaster plan. ''These are serious issues that need to be addressed immediately," she said. ''That's what being a mayor is all about."