Kansas officials on Friday praised the hiring of a firm to oversee construction of a bio-security lab in Manhattan and said the decision shows a commitment to the project that has been questioned by some in Congress.
The Department of Homeland Security announced the selection of McCarthy/Mortenson Joint Venture of St. Louis for a $3.2 million contract as construction manager on the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
NBAF, which will be built at Kansas State University, will serve as a national lab researching deadly diseases. It is scheduled be in operation by 2015.
“DHS is focused on keeping construction right on track because the need for new animal disease vaccines and countermeasures is too critical to delay,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
Gov. Mark Parkinson said he met with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano earlier this week, and that she assured him the agency was committed to NBAF in Kansas.
“Today’s announcement that DHS has selected a construction manager for the facility signals that this project is moving forward, and Kansas’ important role in protecting our nation’s food supply will continue,” Parkinson said.
U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Topeka, said the Homeland Security decision shows that the Obama administration is committed to the project.
Some in Congress, however, have said they want to hold up spending on the lab until more study is done about the risks of moving foot-and-mouth disease research from Plum Island, off New York, to the mainland.