Government seeks site for National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility

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The Department of Homeland Security is exploring sites for a proposed new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to replace the aging Plum Island Animal Disease Center.

The Plum Island center, off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., provides the only U.S. research and confirmatory diagnostic capabilities for many high-consequence foreign animal diseases. It is also the only U.S. laboratory equipped with research facilities that permit study of these diseases in livestock. The Homeland Security Act of 2002 transferred ownership of the center from the Department of Agriculture to the DHS.

The proposed NBAF, which is in the planning phase, would replace the Plum Island center and enhance capabilities for defense against disease agents. The new facility would modernize and integrate agriculture biocontainment laboratories for zoonotic diseases, foreign animal diseases, and human pathogens in support of the missions of the DHS, USDA, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

The NBAF would be about 500,000 square feet on at least 30 acres. The DHS is requesting expressions of interest for possible locations from federal agencies, state and local governments, industry, academia, and other parties and organizations.

The DHS will evaluate locations on the basis of research capabilities; workforce; acquisition, construction, and operations; and community acceptance. The department will ultimately compile a list of sites to include in an environmental impact statement.

The deadline for expressions of interest is March 31. Details are available from a Jan. 19 notice in the Federal Register, which is online at Information is also available at or from Glynis Fisher by e-mail at glynis [dot] fisheratdhs [dot] gov or by fax at (202) 205-3204.