Plum Island: Bishop can’t stop funding for Kansas lab

02/19/2011 9:27 AM |
SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop was thwarted Friday in his attempt to halt funding for a new National Bio-and-Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas to replace the laboratory that is currently housed on Plum Island.

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Congressman Tim Bishop was thwarted Friday in his attempt to halt funding for a new National Bio-and-Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas to replace the laboratory that is currently housed on Plum Island.

Congressman Tim Bishop was thwarted in his attempt Friday to halt funding for a new national biological and agricultural defense facility in Manhattan, Kansas to replace the Plum Island laboratory animal disease research center.

Mr. Bishop introduced an amendment Friday night to bar funding for the lab in this fiscal year. Just days earlier, President Barack Obama released a 2012 budget that includes $150 million for the Kansas lab’s construction.

The congressman said his amendment failed “largely along party lines” in the 269-159 vote.

“Before approving funding … my colleagues wanted to know if it was safe to study the worst animal diseases in the heart of cattle country,” the congressman said. “ We have our answer: there are too many risks — with consequences too great — to justify the costs of construction at this time, and I will keep up the fight.”

But on the floor of the House Friday night, Kansas Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins, a Republican whose district would include the new facility, asked her colleagues to support the project. Various sources estimate the cost at $650 million to $1 billion.

“Simply put, this debate should be about our national security, not local politics,” the congresswoman said. ”In this age of uncertainty and global threats, conducting vital research to protect our nation could not be more crucial. And the truth of the matter is we are dangerously under-protected from the threat of a biological attack against our people and our food.”

Plum Island, which currently conducts most of the nation’s agro-defense research, particularly on livestock diseases, is only a biosafety level 3 facility. The new lab would be a biosafety level 4 facility. The difference between the two levels is that a level 4 lab is cleared to study pathogens that can be fatal to humans.

The federal government is planning to sell Plum Island to offset the cost of the new lab. Southold officials have repeatedly said they plan to rezone the 840-acre island to prohibit uses other than that of a research center.

Mr. Bishop vowed Friday to continue to try to stop funding for the Kansas facility.

“Given our nation’s mounting budget deficits, we should not invest one more dollar of taxpayer money — and up to $1 billion — to create a massive new research facility that would duplicate many of the functions currently served well by other existing facilities, including Plum Island,” Mr. Bishop said.

[email protected]

For more on Plum Island:

Editorial: Keep Plum Island, forget Kansas Lab

Tour takes in Plum Island’s beauty

Comments

comments

7 Comment

  • Lab 157 great book. Very informative about the on-goings on that Creepy Island. So long Plum Island!

  • Keeping and upgrading the Lab on Plum Island makes sense.

    If we can not prevent the Plum Island Lab from being closed,
    at least Plum Island should be converted to a purpose / use
    beneficial to our local community.

    Congressman Tim Bishop can not do it alone.

    This should not be a partisan issue. Why can’t our local Democrats and Republicans join together to fight against the relocation and to work for repurposing Plum Island?

  • yes keep Plum Island running for the money Bishop, how many illnesses,cancers, and birth defects will the people of eastern L.I. have to endure because of this bio-hazard?

  • There go more jobs.

  • I suppose if we re-elect Mr. Bishop over and over we can expect him to become more ineffectual over time?

    This isn’t new. Plum Island has been under the gun during the democratic majorities and Kansas minorites.

    Our representation in congress has drifted to the horizon and disappeared.

  • Why would the idea of Plum Island’s jobs going to Kansas be such a suprise to anyone…especially the Congressman? The North Fork “Winers”, with the help of Rep Bishop, fought tooth-and-nail to keep an upgraded facility from being built at the present site. Manhattan, Kansas welcomed it (along with hundreds of VERY well-paying jobs). We and our NIMBY attitude got exactly what we asked for…300 jobs lost. Please let me know when the next CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) meeting is. I’d like to voice my displeasure.