Archive for Wednesday, January 2, 2013

NBAF land transfer signed

January 2, 2013


TOPEKA — Department of Homeland Security officials have signed a land transfer agreement that allows for the construction of a new federal animal research lab near Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Gov. Sam Brownback and members of the state’s congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the move indicated the federal department is committed to building the $1.14 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Kansas was selected for the animal research lab after a lengthy competition in 2009. DHS will acquire about 46 acres of land for the lab near the north end of Kansas State.

“While there is much more work to be done, signing of the land transfer agreement is a good step forward in securing the future health, wealth and security of the nation,” Brownback said in a statement. “Kansas stands ready to partner with DHS to move this important national security priority forward.”

The lab would replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y., where research would be conducted on deadly animal pathogens, including foot and mouth disease. Sen. Jerry Moran said damage sustained to Plum Island by Hurricane Sandy was another reason DHS needed to move quickly to replace those research capabilities.

Sen. Pat Roberts said he spoke recently with DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, who indicated that construction on the initial phases of the lab shouldn’t face further delays.

The first portion to be built will be a central utilities plant that will support the new lab. According to the DHS timeline the lab is expected to be completed and receive commissioning in 2018, with accreditation and vaccine trials beginning in 2020.

State officials had promoted northeast Kansas as a site for the lab, seeing it as crucial to efforts to create a strong biosciences industry and create more than 300 jobs that would pay an average of more than $75,000 a year. The state is committed to issuing up to $105 million in bonds to help with the project.


lunacydetector 2 years, 2 months ago

good for manhattan, kansas. 300 jobs paying $75,000 per year, that's almost double what the average chocolate bar worker will be making in topeka at the 1/4 of a billion dollar chocolate factory to be built .....i remember when lawrence used to be the leader in recruiting businesses back in the 1990's....but things change i guess...out with the old, in with new but ineffective.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 2 months ago

300 jobs X $75K/yr X 50 yr lifespan of NBAF = $1.124B salaries

One release of hoof & mouth disease? Priceless (current est. to cull herds within 200 mi. = $5B). Since Brownback won't be taxing those salaries, it will be up to the Feds' $168M in tax revenue to cover the spread?

Let's not forget, the KSU Colonels from USAMRIID, home of the Anthrax Mailer, are behind this economic opportunity/agricultural disaster (Natl. Academies of Science est. 70% chance of HMD during 50-year-lifespan).

No one wants to mention the chance of a mad scientist taking it out on the NBAF when her research is cut.

shleppy 2 years, 2 months ago

i'm no doctor, but placing the NABF in the middle of some of the most productive ag land in the world seems like a bad idea.

Kirk Larson 2 years, 2 months ago

Rumor is this was a bone thrown to Pat Roberts for never investigating W's shenanigans when he was head of the intelligence committee. I agree, it's not smart to build this in the midst of cattle country.

jonas_opines 2 years, 2 months ago

If you want to get conservatives or republicans to give you money, tack "defense" on to whatever you're doing.

ljwhirled 2 years, 2 months ago

This is such a bad idea.

The old facility was damaged by a hurricane, but this one is being installed in the middle of cattle country in the most tornado prone area on the planet.

I've been to Joplin, I don't care how strong you build it, unless you build it under ground, a category 5 tornado is going to destroy the structures.

Also, what kind of idiot celebrates the installation of a bio-safety level 4 containment facility in their back yard?

This is going to end badly.

ljwhirled 2 years, 2 months ago

Oh, and all of the politicians that are for it now will say they were against it after the disaster.

It will have been "unforseeable" and "unthinkable" and the responsibility of someone else, usually someone WAY down the chain of command.

You get what you vote for.

blindrabbit 2 years, 2 months ago


Move NBAF forward The real advantage of originally placing the lab at Plum Island reveals that the thinkers at that time displayed much more common sense than is being used to site the new lab in Kansas.

Firstly, the prevailing wind at Plum is offshore; and since the island is just about as far east as you can get on the East Coast any airborne release will drift out over open ocean and not over 1,500 miles of populated US mainland. Just think why Japan located it's nuclear power plants on it's East Coast; most of the radioactive release following the earthquake/tsunami drifted out over the open Pacific.

Secondly, Plum Island is located far away from an area that would suffer greatly if a release of animal diseases were to be released. Why place a livestock disease testing facility right in the middle of livestock (cattle) production area. The release of hoof and mouth (like diseases) in Kansas would be devastating to cattle not to mention impact on human health. Several years ago a few contaminated cattle in Great Britian caused the cattle industry to almost be wiped out. Many thousands of cattle needed to be destroyed and the industry has been slow to recover.

Thirdly, at Plum Island most of the most dangerous work is carried out right in the high security controlled area. Access to and from the facility is highly regulated and the likelihood of terrorist activity is minimal because of it's remote location. The proposed location in Manhattan is very close to a populated city and is surrounded by private property where a terrorist could gain close access to the facility site. Also, much of the work at the proposed Kansas facilty is to be carried out by a variety of "subcontractors" located removed from the main lab. Does this mean movement to and from the main site will be over public roads/railroads with minimal control and great exposure potential. Just think of some nut bent on causing a release, how easy this might be with such an "open, loose" operating fashion.

Fourthly, placing the facitiy in an active tornado zone does not make sense. To protect from a potential tornado impact, much of the lab would need to be in highly fortified buildings (maybe underground); what about additional cost to achieve this security. Other natural impacts need to be considered as well including flooding, winter weather conditions and earthquake possibilities.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 2 months ago

Ye Olde CDC Atlanta hasn't released anything we need to worry about, Yet.

Apples to Oranges . . . .

Here's a guess that the CDC Atlanta has few Herds of lab animals. The NBAF is to have herds of cattle, sheep, goats, fowl (flocks) & Swine (no reference to KSU alums Col. David R. Franz, VP Midwest Research Institute, KC, MO, Jerry (University Veterinarian @ > $110K salary as KSU Veterinarian since 1999) & Nancy K. Jaax (coauthored a paper with the Anthrax Mailer, Dr. Bruce Ivins).

The last graphic of the NBAF I saw showed 3 Large "digesters" capable of eating a cow carcass in short order (?); space for an additional 3 "digesters."

The scale of the "experimental subjects" will be much greater than any CDC facility. Consequently, their waste products will be on a much grander scale.

FYI: Manhattan's Planning Dept. exhibited & approved the infrastructure for NBAF:

stormwater runoff will be be guided to 2 containment ponds on-site. Excess capacity is to be pumped to the N along Denison Ave (past Fire Station on Kimball) to Marlatt. East on Marlatt across Highway 24 & on to the Big Blue River, just above its confluence with the Kaw, which I believe flows past Lawrence?

Guess Thunderstorms don't often accompany Tornados?

Kyle Chandler 2 years, 2 months ago

K-States Nuclear Reactor was getting lonesome sitting on that fault line at Tuttle Creek with no one to talk to, now it has the NBAF to keep it company.

Thanks Pat, Thanks Sam!

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 2 months ago

I have > 200 undergraduate hrs, but only a BS in Biology; certified to teach biology, chemistry & Physics.

At one time, I worked with ~ 1700 Cartographers @ Defense Mapping Agency, a Top Secret= Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. DMA never admitted to any errors on the cruise missile map of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia,

Assuming you are educated, Google: Dual Use Research of Concern

(Dr. Frantz got himself appointed to that committee, as well as DHS' Homeland Security Science & Technology Advisory Committee;' likely panel which labelled Plum Island ADC as antiquated & chose his alma mater for the new NBAF).

Google: NBAF Franz Jaax

Pay no attention to results for: USAMRIID Franz camel

& relax knowing Franz is the Agro expert with the KS Bioscience Authority which has given $450K to his MRI for studies & help with the NBAF (look for MRI to run the NBAF as a G O C O (Govt-Owned, Contractor-Operated) facility.

MarcoPogo 2 years, 2 months ago

I heard they're also going to open a Mexican restaurant with it.

yourworstnightmare 2 years, 2 months ago

More federal government welfare for Kansas.

Horrors. It will employ thousands.

Wait, I thought that government doesn't create jobs....

Tell that to Pat Roberts.

ljwhirled 2 years, 2 months ago

I can do math and understand basic probability theory:

Given an event of a non-zero probability and a long enough timeline, the probability that the event will occur approaches certainty. Simple as that.

So, lets take our wonderful, super-safe bio-lab. Lets say that the probability of a catastrophic event (tornado, inadvertent release, intentional release, misplaced filter, etc.) on any given day is 1/10,000.

Now lets figure out how long it takes for the probability to become 50%?

So our probability of surviving the first day of operations would be 0.9999

The second day would be 0.99999 * 0.9999 or 0.9999 ^ 2 = 0.9998

The third day it would be 0.9999 ^ 3 = 0.9997

So if our chances of an accident happening are 1/10,000 each day, after only 6,920 days there is a probability of 50%. That is a mere 19 years.

After 30 years? The probability approaches 67%

On a 50 year timeframe? The probability approaches 84%

How do you make 100% certain that your research facility doesn't allow dangerous pathogens to escape in America's heartland? You build it somewhere else. Say Plumb Island in the Atlantic.

Frederic Gutknecht IV 2 years, 2 months ago

It's OK. Mulder and Scully will protect us from the exploding pustules.

blindrabbit 2 years, 2 months ago

Cappy: Of all of the comments on this story, including some of my own, your post indicating that "this was a bone thrown to Part Roberts because he agreed not to investigate Dubya's "creation" of the war in Iraq when Roberts was head of the Senate Intelligence Committee" makes more sense than any other post. The use of "Roberts" and "intelligence" in the same sentence is a blaspheme and a error in common sense and use of the English Language.

Shane Garrett 2 years, 2 months ago

I love reading all the doom and gloom posts. Meanwhile, nothing can be done to stop what will take place. So just be a dooms day preparer and all you scared Jay Hawkers will be fine in your hole. According to jwhirled, I should be retired or dead by the time the "certain" accident occurs. Oh, and just to placate the rest; I agree it was all George Bush's fault. I would too would post a photo of the ground works at NBAF but then I would fear the black ops arrival.

JHawkInLA 2 years, 2 months ago

Once this is built, maybe they could do a remake of "The Andromeda Strain" in Manhattan. Something along the line of, "The Day After."

Kirk Larson 2 years, 2 months ago

What's kind of amusing is they have already found anthrax in the soil where the NBAF is going. It's right where there used to be a University feed lot so after decades of cattle, it's endemic in the soil.

pti3 2 years, 2 months ago

Biodefense facility accidents listed by state from:

The following is pasted from link above. For timeline see link above. "This information was taken from the website, and compiled by Kenneth King, GERMS GONE WILD: How the Unchecked Development of Domestic Biodefense Threatens America (New York: Pegasus, 2010), using information published by the Sunshine Project, Associated Press, and other news sources."  GERMS GONE WILD SPECIAL: GERM LAB INCIDENTS FROM AROUND THE COUNTRY, BY STATE

The first column indicates the state impacted or implicated, the second column the page  number on which the incident is discussed in GERMS GONE WILD. Incidents cited only in the 2007 Associated Press review of CDC accident reports leaked to the AP are referenced as "AP." A link to the AP tabulation is provided at the GERMS GONE WILD website at, under "Resources."

The details of many incidents discussed in GERMS GONE WILD were originally derived from the AP and the archives of the Sunshine Project at Most of these incidents would be unknown to the public if not for the work of these two organizations. Given the secrecy prevalent in biodefense research, they likely represent only "the tip of the iceberg."

This secrecy is exacerbated by the failure of the National Institutes of Health to enforce its Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) guidelines--supposedly an important part of the government's minimal regulatory schemes.  (See Chapters Ten and Fifteen of GERMS GONE WILD.)  The date given for most such IBC incidents is 2004--because that's the year The Sunshine Project identified the problems in its thorough survey of IBC's: Mandate for Failure: The State of Institutional Biosafety Committees in an Age of Biological Weapons Research, available at  I have listed here only the incidents discussed in GERMS GONE WILD.  We can assume that most of the IBC problems identified in 2004 continue to exist.

Joe Blackford II 2 years, 2 months ago

I spoke with Mr. King when "Anthrax Wars" was shown at the Manhattan Public Library.

At that time, the Sunshine Project listed the 2001 (?) error by The Southern Research Institute (which KSU's Col Franz ran prior to jumping to MRI). The SRI mistakenly sent LIVE bacteria to a Calif. Children's Hospital lab. The reserachers were surprised to find their mice soon died; so Repeat = same results = LIVE bacteria. The reserachers had to e vacinated for that disease. Within a year, Google could no longer find anything on the subject other than the Sunshine Project. I don't recall whether the UPS man left the box of germs on the back steps, or threw them over the fence. None the less = unsafe practice of a lab under Dr. Freanz' direction; just as the USAMRIID was when he established only a SECRET level of clearance needed to work with bio-terrorism agents.

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