It appears the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will receive the $300 million in federal funding needed to complete construction in Manhattan, Kansas. After a contentious fight over the Obama Administration’s immigration policy, the U.S. House of Representatives on March 3 voted 257 to 167 in favor of the $40 billion bill, which finds the Department of Homeland Security, including $300 million for the NBAF. President Obama signed the bill the following day.
The NBAF will replace the aging the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in Plum Island, N.Y., which has operated since 1954. Construction on parts of the facility, adjacent to the Kansas State University campus, is underway, with a total cost estimated at $.125 billion.
In January, Kansas officials made a conditional agreement to issue $231 million in bonds to bring the state’s investment to $307 million, or 25 percent of the total cost.
Initial planning for the NBAF began in 2006, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which will run the facility, selected the Manhattan site, on the K-State Campus, in 2009.
NBAF scientists, in collaboration with K-State, other universities and industry, intend to develop 21st century vaccines, diagnostics and countermeasures against multiple foreign animal diseases.
Once the site was selected, K-State began removing and relocating existing animal facilities in 2010. Ownership of the land transferred from K-State to DHS, and site preparation was completed in 2012. Construction is underway on a central utility plant to serve the NABF, and that facility is near completion. Current plans call for construction of the main laboratory to begin in May 2015, with completion planned for December 2020 and full transition from the Plum Island site by August 2023. In the meantime, Ron Trewyn, PhD, K-State’s liaison to the NABF and the university’s former VP for research, says America’s bio and agro-defense capabilities will be severely lacking, although K-State’s existing Biosecurity Research Institute, with a bio-safety level 3 (BSL-3) laboratory, will be conducting NBAF-related research. The NABF will include a BSL-4 laboratory area.
For more about the facility, visit Kansas State University’s NBAF website.