The safety of a proposed federal biosecurity research lab likely will be a major topic at a public meeting today in Manhattan.
The meeting at the Kansas State University Student Union is designed to answer questions and receive public input on the proposed National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF. Two sessions are scheduled, from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Homeland Security released a draft environmental impact statement in June. It said because the proposed site would be in the middle of the nation's cattle industry, a release of foot-and-mouth disease, which would be researched at the lab, would have a devastating effect. It put the potential loss in livestock herds at $4.2 billion - higher than any other finalist site. But the report also said the risk of a release of the disease from the lab would be extremely low.
Recent tornadoes in the area have raised concerns that weather may work against Kansas' effort to land the lab. But Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has said, "I don't know that any of the competitors are immune from storm situations."
Along with KSU in Manhattan, five other sites are being considered: Athens, Ga.; Granville County, N.C.; Madison County, Miss.; San Antonio; and the site of the present facility, Plum Island, N.Y. Homeland Security is expected to choose a location in December.