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Plum Island’s move to Kansas: ‘This research facility is an accident waiting to happen’

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 Cinnamon    24,415

Groundbreaking for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a $1.25 billion project by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), took place last Wednesday in Manhattan, Kansas. The new facility will focus biosafety level 3 agriculture (BSL-3Ag) research on dangerous livestock diseases such as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and will focus its BSL-4 research on such deadly pathogens as the Hendra and Nipah viruses, which are zoonotic pathogens that can be transmitted from animals to humans and for which no treatment is available.


R-CALF USA Vice President Mike Schultz who raises cattle in Brewster, Kansas, said the United States is making a terrible mistake by bringing the live FMD virus into Kansas.

“Congress and the President are ignoring the science that tells us this research facility is an accident waiting to happen,” he said.

When construction is complete, and for the first time since the 1929 FMD outbreak in California, the live FMD virus will once again be reintroduced to the United States’ mainland. Foot-and mouth disease is the most highly infectious animal disease presently known to cloven-footed animals such as cattle, swine, sheep and deer. Nearly 100 percent of exposed animals become infected. To accommodate the DHS’ request to bring the live FMD virus to the mainland, Congress first had to change U.S. law that restricted use of the live FMD virus to coastal islands. Since the 1950s, all U.S. research on FMD was conducted at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, located on an island off the northern tip of Long Island, New York.

Related: Transplanting Plum Island to Kansas: is the country’s food supply at risk?

In 2008 the independent, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a study and concluded that the DHS lacks evidence to conclude that FMD research can be done safely on the U.S. mainland. The GAO raised numerous concerns regarding the inherent dangers of conducting research in close proximity to susceptible animals, such as the wildlife and cattle that surround the Manhattan site, particularly since FMD can be carried from farm-to-farm on the wind. The GAO pointed out that the DHS did not examine data from past releases of FMD – including the inadvertent release of FMD from Plum Island in 1978 that, according to reports, was carried harmlessly away over the Atlantic Ocean by prevailing winds. As a result, only the research cattle in pens at the facility had to be destroyed.


In 2010 the National Academy of Sciences (Academy) conducted its own independent study of the proposed Manhattan site and concluded that the Manhattan site would more likely than not result in an FMD outbreak within the 50-year life span of the NBAF. The Academy found that some of the risks associated with the Manhattan site were generic to any high-containment large animal facility, such as sites where the virus is inoculated in live cattle rather than being contained in biosafety cabinets. However, the Academy found that the risk of FMD infection, spread, and impact were largely related to the Manhattan site.

The Academy concluded that the probability of an infection resulting from a laboratory release of FMD from the NBAF site in Manhattan, Kansas approaches 70% over 50 years, with an economic impact to the U.S. cattle industry of $9-50 billion. Human error will be the most likely cause of an accidental pathogen release from Manhattan, according to the Academy.

Schultz said that human error was the cause of accidental releases of FMD that occurred both internally in and externally from the Plum Island facility. “If, or when, such accidents occur in Manhattan, the consequences will be far more severe than they were on the isolated island.”



:damned: There is no end to the stupidity! They wanted this so badly that they actually changed the law to make it happen.

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For FR@#K sake! They can't even NOT ship live Anthrax all over the country via FedEx!!!! How do they have the gall to try to convince us THIS is safe???

Talk about a disaster in the intentional making!!! :cmicsfee:

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 RabidWolf    1,077


 There is no end to the stupidity! They wanted this so badly that they actually changed the law to make it happen.


If there was a worse place to build such a facility, I am not sure where that would be. 

It is on a flood plain in Tornado Alley.

On a side note; Manhattan, Kansas is where Cassandra Peterson (Elvira, Mistress of the Dark) was born.

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