• Government considering options for post-biolab Plum Island

    The Plum Island biolab, located on an 840-acre island of the tip of Long Island, has always been shrouded in mystery owing to the sensitive nature of the biological research done in its high-security facilities; now the center is being shut down by DHS, and the government is considering several options regarding what should be done on the island and the research facility

  • New U.S. biodedfense R&D network launched

    On Monday, Texas A&M System dedicated a new research center which is part of a national network of centers aiming to develop strategies and products to counter bioterrorism, chemical and radiological attacks on the United States, and better strategies to deal with pandemics; the network will have facilities in Texas, Maryland, and North Carolina; the Texas dedication is the culmination of a Manhattan Project-like program for biological countermeasures, launched in 2004 by the Department of Health and Human Services; the research network aims to develop “rapid, nimble and flexible approaches” to vaccine and therapy development, and train the next generation of professionals to sustain U.S. capabilities in these areas

  • Scaled-back Kansas biolab would meet U.S. needs

    A report by the National Research Council says that it is “imperative” that the United States build a large-animal biocontainment laboratory to protect animal and public health; two options are acceptable: a $1.4 billion Biosafety Level 4 laboratory in Manhattan, Kansas, or a scaled-back Kansas lab tied to a distributed laboratory network in other facilities; a third option will not meet U.S. needs: maintaining current capabilities at Plum Island Animal Disease Center, because the Plum Island facilities do not meet current standards for high biocontainment

  • Report: Updated DHS risk assessment of Kansas lab still “technically inadequate”

    Congress was unsatisfied with a 2010 DHS risk-assessment study of the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas, and asked for a new study of the risks, and an evaluation of the new study by the National Research Council; the evaluation says that some of the risk reduction noted in the new DHS risk assessment may be explained by improvements to the latest design plans for the facility, but that despite these improvements, the updated DHS assessment underestimates the risk of an accidental pathogen release and inadequately characterizes the uncertainties in those risks

  • Budget, safety concerns cast doubt on Kansas BioLab

    Uncertainty continues to surround the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, which is scheduled to be built on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, to replace the aging Plum Island facility; the price tag for the lab has increased from $415 million to an estimated $1.14 billion, and concerns about the safety of building a Level-4 BioLab in the middle of tornado alley are yet to be fully addressed

  • Kansas fights to keep bio lab project alive

    Still reeling from the shock of finding out that the administration’s budget proposal does not contain any construction funds for the $650 million Bio Lab Level 4 facility in their state, Kansas political and business leaders vowed to fight to keep the project alive, including looking for alternative funding sources; the bio lab was considered the anchor of what is called an Animal Health Corridor stretching from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, to the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri

  • Kansas biolab project on life support

    In 2008, DHS chose Manhattan, Kansas, as the location for a new, $650 million BioLab Level 4; the new lab was planned as a replacement for the aging Plum Island facility; critics argued that the lab’s location — in the middle of Tornado Alley and at the center a region which is home to a large portion of the U.S. beef industry – was not ideal for a facility doing research on deadly animal and human pathogens; it now appears that budgetary considerations have doomed to project

  • Lack of use leads federal counterterror labs to find work elsewhere

    Counterterrorism laboratories originally set up to test for dangerous biological or chemical substances have increasingly been used to assist in non-conventional tasks like testing oysters for shellfish contamination or identifying synthetic marijuana

  • Federal court hears debate over California bio weapons research facility

    Earlier this month opponents of the bioweapons research center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory argued before a federal appeals court that government officials failed to heed a 2006 court ruling and recklessly went ahead with the research facility without considering terrorist threats

  • Kansas State takes over pathogen research from Plum Island

    As New York’s Plum Island Animal Disease Center begins to shut down, much of its pathogen work will be transferred to Kansas State University’s Biosecurity Research Institute in preparation for the opening of DHS’ new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in nearby Manhattan, Kansas

  • Emergency medical response in a post-9/11 Washington, D.C.

    Beverly Pritchett, the senior deputy director of the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration at the D.C. Department of Health, is a 27-year veteran of the U.S. Army Medical Service Corps; Pritchett discusses improvements made to the city’s emergency medical response capabilities, the integration of smartphones and social media into disaster response plans, and the need for continued funding to sustain the gains made in public health over the past ten years

  • Biolabs: the solution may be the problem

    Since the fall 2001 anthrax attacks, there has been a vast expansion of the U.S. bioterror research infrastructure; now, more than 11,000 scientists work on bioterrorism and agroterrorism research in seventeen major and many more smaller labs across the United States; billions of federal dollars are funding research on new vaccines and antibiotics to protect the population from anthrax, plague, tularemia, Ebola, and other lethal germs; what is the likelihood that there is another Bruce Ivins — perhaps more than one — among these thousands of researchers with access to the most lethal pathogens on Earth?

  • How safe is Kansas bio lab from twisters?

    DHS officials say they are confident that the proposed bio-defense lab in Manhattan, Kansas, located in the heart of tornado alley, is capable of withstanding a direct hit from a powerful twister; engineers have hardened the $650 million National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) to withstand wind speeds of up to 230 miles per hour; but critics of the planned facility argue that the new standards are inadequate and that the facility must be further reinforced to ensure that in the event of a natural disaster the deadly pathogens and viruses stored there are not spread

  • Kansas House cuts troubled agency's role in funding of bio lab

    DHS has chosen Kansas State University (KSU) in Manhattan, Kansas, as the location for the new, $650 million Level 4 BioLab, which will replace the aging lab on Plum Island, New York; the federal laboratory will be the U.S. premier facility for research into countering possible bioterrorism attacks and threats to the nation’s food supply; the Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) was supposed to handle the issuing of $105 million in bonds to develop the lab, but the KBA’s chief executive has recently resigned under a cloud, and the agency’s business practices are now being investigated the Johnson County District Attorney; the Kansas House voted to cut the KBA out of handling the bond issue; “We didn’t want any kind of hint of a problem,” said one House member

  • Information about Maryland biolabs scarce

    High-level containment laboratories and storage facilities that handle dangerous biological agents exist in Frederick County, Maryland, outside the secured gates of Fort Detrick, but state law mandates that the number and location of each remains confidential; supporters of the current system say that confidentiality is critical to maintain the security and safety of the labs, but critics argue that the secrecy makes it impossible for emergency services in the neighborhood to prepare properly for accidents