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  • Last modified 3630 days ago (Dec. 10, 2008)

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The cost of development

A new National Biological and Agricultural Defense Facility will be located on the Kansas State University campus.

The facility will research ways of protecting citizens and animals from the threat of disease and will study livestock diseases and some of the world’s most dangerous biological threats. The Department of Homeland Defense made the selection for the $451 million facility.

This facility will replace a 54-year-old operation near Long Island, N.Y.

Representative Jerry Moran has been a member of the Kansas NBAF Task Force. He said Kansas was successful in combining the efforts of local, state, and federal leaders to convince DHS Kansas held the key to NBAF’s success, he said in a release.

Some have been concerned about the differences in location with the current facility being surrounded by water and this facility being in a more densely-populated area.

Proponents have contested such a facility poses the threat of an accidental outbreak which could prove deadly in a densely-populated area.

Those in favor of the location said the likelihood of such a thing happening was “one in a billion.”

Federal officials have said the NBAF would be a Biosafety Level 4 facility, offering the highest level of containment protection.

According to a recent Newsweek article, the lab is expected to generate about 1,500 construction jobs and a permanent payroll of $25-$30 million per year for more than 300 employees when the project is completed by 2015.

According to information obtained by The Associated Press, the KSU campus site was chosen based on its proximity to existing biohazard research, strong community acceptance, and a generous package of incentives offered by the state.

Wow.

I’m not sure how to digest this.

From an economic view, this is great news. From an environmental concern, I’m not entirely thrilled with the location. None of the press releases from elected officials mentioned any concerns about the hazards of such a facility. Surely there are some.

From my understanding, these labs are used to study bioterrorism threats. By studying them, I believe that means creating, containing, and maintaining them.

Yikes! What a great target for a terrorist to strike that lab and release all of the harmful germs and biohazards created by man!

I suppose the threat has always been somewhere, wherever the lab was located. This may be no different than any other biodefense lab.

But then again, there are biohazard sites all over Kansas and in Marion County with anhydrous ammonia tanks located along city streets and in residential neighborhoods.

Not exactly the same as germ warfare but can sure cause pandemonium if released.

I suppose there will come a time when we’ll regard this research lab on the KSU campus the same as we do those tanks, scattered throughout our cities.

—SB

Last modified Dec. 10, 2008

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