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DHS Issues Record of Decision on Proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility 

Release Date: January 16, 2009

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

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate today released the Record of Decision (ROD) on the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF). Manhattan, Kan., has been selected as the site for a state-of the-art, high-security laboratory facility to study foreign animal and zoonotic (transferable from animal to human) diseases that can impact livestock.  This formal ROD follows the publication of the NBAF Final Environmental Impact Statement (NBAF Final EIS) in the Federal Register on Dec. 12, 2008 and officially designates a site upon which to build the NBAF. 

“This decision completes a comprehensive three-year effort to ensure our ability to safely and effectively secure our nation’s agriculture and food supply,” said Homeland Security Under Secretary for Science and Technology Jay Cohen. “I accepted the NBAF DHS/Department of Agriculture Steering Committee’s unanimous recommendation to build the NBAF in Manhattan because it represents the best overall proposal on how to meet mission needs. I greatly appreciate the well thought-out proposals from over a dozen states and their consortia, which reflected the impressive capabilities of many communities.”

Facility design will begin in 2009 with plans for construction to begin in 2010. It is expected that the NBAF would be operational by 2015. The NBAF will be designed to replace the current facilities at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) in New York, which is currently the only facility in the U.S. that studies the live virus that causes Foot-and-Mouth disease. The facility has served the nation for over 50 years, but is not appropriate for zoonotic disease research that must be conducted at Biosafety Level 4 (BSL-4).  There is currently no laboratory facility in the U.S. with capabilities for BSL-4 research on large livestock. PIADC will be closed once the NBAF is fully operational, and DHS will evaluate options in the coming months for transitioning the PIADC facility and its future use.

The ROD is based on the information and analysis in the NBAF Final EIS, including public comments, as well as other appropriate factors such as site evaluation criteria, a threat and risk assessment, costs, security, and other programmatic requirements. Additionally, DHS considered all comments received during the 30-day period following the publication of the NBAF Final EIS.

The NBAF will provide a secure, domestic, modern and integrated high-containment facility with laboratories for an estimated 250 to 350 scientists and support staff to safely and effectively address the accidental or intentional introduction into the United States of animal diseases of high consequence, including Foot-and-Mouth disease.

The ROD has been published in the Federal Register and can be accessed at: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2009/pdf/E9-914.pdf (PDF, 16 pages - 113 KB). Further details on the proposed NBAF and the site-selection process, including all related documents are available at www.dhs.gov/nbaf.


This page was last reviewed/modified on January 16, 2009.