Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Issues Draft Environmental Impact Statement on Proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF)

Release Date: June 20, 2008

For Immediate Release Office of the Press Secretary Contact: 202-282-8010

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate issued today the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility Draft Environmental Impact Statement (NBAF Draft EIS) for public review and comment.

“The proposed NBAF would enable us to meet the challenges posed by the intentional or unintentional introduction of a foreign animal or zoonotic disease that could threaten the U.S. livestock industry, food supply and public health,” said Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology Jay Cohen. “By expanding and modernizing our ability to develop advanced test and evaluation capabilities and vaccine countermeasures for these types of diseases, we protect not only our nation’s security, but also the vibrancy of our agriculture system.”

The proposed NBAF is a joint effort with the Department of Agriculture that would establish a state-of the-art, high-security laboratory facility to study both foreign animal and zoonotic diseases (diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans).

The NBAF would be designed to replace the existing facilities at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York. PIADC is currently the only facility in the U.S. that studies the live virus that causes Foot-and-Mouth disease. The current facility is too small to meet new research needs and has an outdated physical structure that makes it unsuitable for zoonotic disease research that must be conducted at the highest level of biosafety, BSL-4. There is no laboratory facility in the U.S. for BSL-4 research on livestock.

No decision has been made yet on where, or even if, the facility would be built. The Science and Technology Directorate is undergoing this extensive review process to thoroughly evaluate each option, with the feedback of all interested parties, before any decision is made.

The Draft EIS analyzes the proposal to design, construct and operate the NBAF, including risk assessments, for each of the six proposed NBAF locations: Athens, Ga.; Manhattan, Kan.; Madison County, Miss.; Granville County, N.C.; San Antonio, Texas and Plum Island, N.Y. The Draft EIS also analyzes a no-action alternative, in which a new facility is not built.

A Notice of Availability will be published in the Federal Register, and DHS will host public meetings in the vicinity of each proposed site later this summer. The NBAF Draft EIS as well as information on submitting comments during the 60-day comment period, will also be available at www.dhs.gov/nbaf. The NBAF Final EIS is expected in late fall 2008, and a Record of Decision on if, and where, the NBAF would be constructed will be published no less than 30 days after the completion of the Final EIS.