December 5, 2008
The federal government has recommended a site in Kansas for a new $450 million laboratory to study biological threats like anthrax and foot-and-mouth disease (FMA), congressional lawmakers and staff said Wednesday.
The Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) choice of Manhattan, Kan., beat out intense competition from other sites in Georgia, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina and Texas.
The DHS recommendation does not ensure the lab's construction in Kansas. The choice does not become final until 30 days following publication of the final environmental impact study which is expected to be released today. Theoretically, the selection could face legal challenges, either from sites that were not selected or from groups who have gone on record as opposing construction of the lab anywhere.
The new lab would replace an aging 24-acre research complex on Plum Island, about four miles off the eastern shore of Long Island, N.Y. FMD research has been confined to the island since 1955 to avoid an accidental outbreak that could lead to the slaughter of millions of livestock. The disease does not sicken humans.
The lab is expected to generate about 1,500 construction jobs and a permanent payroll of $25 million to $30 million for more than 300 employees once the project is completed by 2015.