Archive for Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Obama budget has $300M for Kansas NBAF project

March 4, 2014


President Barack Obama is proposing Congress provide another infusion of cash to continue construction of a new biosecurity lab in Kansas.

The president's budget was announced Tuesday and includes $300 million for the Department of Homeland Security to continue work on the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility under construction near Kansas State University.

The $1.25 billion new lab is designed to conduct research on large animals and related diseases to replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y.

Construction began in 2013 on a central utility plant that will provide power and other services for the lab. DHS says construction on the main lab is expected to begin sometime this year, with the beginning operations at a date yet to be announced.


Joshua Montgomery 4 years, 1 month ago

Not to contribute to the fray, but putting the NBAF in a region that earns Billions of dollars through agriculture is a fundamentally bad idea.

It is currently on an island for a reason. SNAFU happens.

Lets apply some common sense to this issue and put this facility as far away from agriculture as it can reasonably be. Maybe Johnson Atoll ( )

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 1 month ago

No NBAF in Kansas Real Biosecurity for the Heartland

Risk Assessment for the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas

Michael LoBurgio 4 years, 1 month ago

National Bio and Agro Defense Facility tornado protection still an issue

The tornado that struck Joplin, Mo. would almost certainly have destroyed the National Bio and Agro Defense Facility in Manhattan, Ks. had it struck there, studies show, potentially releasing dangerous toxins, including a foot-and-mouth disease virus, into the atmosphere.

A study released in October 2010 concluded “the containment and structural features of the NBAF may fail in an F2 or more intense tornado event.”

The Joplin tornado is widely believed to have been an F4 or F5 event.

The study — called a site-specific risk analysis — recommended “hardening” the $650 million facility to withstand an F2 tornado, at a cost of roughly $60 million. It also suggested studying the cost of hardening the facility to withstand an F3 event, defined as winds reaching 206 mph.

Other studies suggest the Department of Homeland Security will redesign the structure to at least meet the F2 standard, which would still be far short of the devastating Joplin storm.

The study said the chance of a damaging tornado at NBAF — and a subsequent release of foot-and-mouth disease — is exceedingly small. It predicts an F2 or greater tornado would hit the facility and cause a pathogen release, on average, every 770 years.

But the consequences would be devastating. A tornado-related release of foot-and-mouth disease virus would cost $5 billion, studies estimate.

Critics of the NBAF facility have worried about the tornado danger for some time.

John Kerr, chairman of a Texas consortium that sought the facility, told the AP two years ago that locating NBAF in Manhattan would be “grossly irresponsible, the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature.”

In its final environmental impact statement, the Department of Homeland Security said the NBAF building will withstand an F3 tornado, but made no claims about anything stronger.

Other studies, though, show the building as now designed would struggle against an F2:

The SSRA assessment of the current NBAF design (90 mph design load with 1.15 Importance Factor and 1.6 Factor of Safety) indicated that an F2 or greater intensity tornado may cause a loss of biocontainment. DHS has specified that the NBAF should be able to maintain containment if struck by an F2 or lesser intensity tornado, and planning efforts are underway to modify the schematic design to be consistent with this requirement.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

My ancestors brought the first steam-powered thresher West of the Mississippi to Kansas in the 1880s. Every Kansan should shudder to think what the NBAF will bring to Kansas in its 50-year lifespan. It's not the threat of an F-5 tornado, or bioterrorist attack that makes the NBAF dangerous to KS agriculture. It's the knowledge of the scientists conducting "dual use research" there from 2018-2068.

Kansans are to feel safer knowing KSU Alum, former USAMRIID Commander & VP of Midwest Research Institute Global, Col. David R. Franz, is a voting member of the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity? The NSABB is charged with "oversight of dual use research, defined as biological research with legitimate scientific purpose that may be misused to pose a biologic threat to public health and/or national security."

Col. Franz was a member of the Kansas Bioscience Authority Executive Committee, the group which awarded ~ $450K for 3 studies with his company, Midwest Research Institute, KC, MO.

"On April 8, 2009, KBA contracted with MRI for “Task Order No. 2” for a total of $200,000 for “NBAF GOCO Strategy.” "

How is Midwest Research Institute going to find 300 trustworthy NBAF employees to transfer to KS from its other GOCO labs? Maybe the Kansas Bioscience Authority will pay for security clearances?

In 2008, Ventria Bioscience Inc. brought Weiqiang Zhang, seed breeder, to Junction City. Zhang just happened to steal $Million rice seeds, according to the FBI.

The KS Bioscience Authority committed $1,000,000 to Ventria. (Approved Oct. 12, 2006.)

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

When members of a National Research Council committee charged by Congress to review an updated DHS risk assessment for the proposed NBAF in 2012, they asked about security protocols.

A KSU representative stated that KSU’s Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) was the proving ground for the university’s security processes. He went on to stipulate that BRI employees passed requirements identical to what would be used for NBAF researchers. "We are prepared."

This statement was made on Jan. 27, 2012. By October, we would learn of this BRI revelation:

Alma woman has admitted embezzling from Kansas State University's BRI (aka Pat Roberts Hall) while working as an office manager.

"Miller worked from August 2007 to January 2013 at the institute on the Manhattan campus. The institute receives grants for infectious disease research focused on threats to plant, animal and human health."

After the January meeting, Col. Jerry Jaax, KSU University Veterinarian, came up to me and said "You must be DevilsAdvocate." I affirmed his guess (based upon my statements to the committee?). Jaax stated "Dr. Ivins was NOT THE ANTHRAX MAILER."

Having worked with Ivins his entire career, I suppose Jaax might be right & the FBI wrong?

This leaves the possibility that the actual Anthrax Mailer will become a research scientist at the NBAF, as several former USAMRIID scientists have gone on to work at Plum Island Animal Disease Center for the USDA, & for Midwest Research Institute..

Well, at least the USDA has security:

Wengui Yan, a rice geneticist at the Dale Bumpers National Rice Research Center in Stuttgart, AR, was arrested by the FBI on charges of conspiring to steal trade secrets.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

Well, surely the infamous NSA’s Edward Snowden has nothing to do with safety & security of the NBAF.

Booz Allen Hamilton, the last employer for NSA leaker Edward Snowden, crafted the NBAF propaganda which KSU & DHS have fed us in regards to the NAS finding of a SEVENTY % PROBABILITY OF AN ACCIDENTAL RELEASE OF FOOT & MOUTH DISEASE:

“Booz Allen worked with the DHS Science and Technology NBAF Program Manager to formulate strategy and talking points in response to a controversial finding in the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Report on NBAF’s Site Specific Risk Assessment. In consultation with Booz Allen, NBAF acted quickly in developing both an offensive and defensive messaging strategy for White House and news media briefings and queries. The core messages emphasized NBAF’s commitment to protection and safety, comprehensive mitigation strategies, scientific rigor and evidence-based approaches, and the importance of due diligence and best-in-field practice.

Whether you’re managing today’s issues or looking beyond the horizon, count on us to help you be ready for what’s next.”

Kansans should ask, rather than the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, designed to be operated by Midwest Research Institute as a Government-Owned, Contractor Operated secure lab; will the NBAF provide a 50-year window of opportunity for a researcher with an inadequate security background check to destroy Kansas agriculture?

Armen Kurdian 4 years, 1 month ago

Any researcher would need to have the appropriate clearances and background checks to work there much like any job requiring some level of security clearance. There is always a risk when you do that as has been seen with Snowden, Manning, and other traitors. As for physical security, you really do need to plan for a worst case. We do it for nuclear reactors, and I'm sure the CDC is hardened as well. It's likelihood vs. consequence that has to be weighed.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

Following 9/11, Pres. GEORGE W. BUSH issued Executive Orders which permit government employees & CONTRACTORS (see Snowden) to carry their security clearances from job to job to job.

AS OF 2012, 43.9% of Top Secret clearances were held by contract employees; many of whom were investigated by their employer. Snowden's clearance was received in such a manner.

"The Office of Personnel Management, Federal Investigative Services (OPM-FIS) oversees approximately 90% of all background investigations. The actual investigations, for the most part, are conducted by private investigative firms under contract with OPM-FIS. According to Merton W. Miller, Associate Director of Investigations for OPM-FIS, the nationwide network of OPM-FIS investigators includes more than 2,500 federal employees and 6,700 contractors. Of the investigative work conducted by contractors, approximately 45% is conducted by US Investigations Services, LLC (USIS). Most of the remaining investigative work by contractors is conducted by three companies: CACI Premier Technology (CACI), Omniplex World Services Corporation (OMNI), and KeyPoint Government Solutions (KeyPoint)."

My concern is that the NBAF has been labelled as "vital to national security" by a USA Colonel (Dr. David R. Franz, appointed to the Homeland Security Science and Technology Committee, HSSTAC, in February 2004). The HSSTAC called Plum Island Animal Disease Center "antiquated." Franz joined MRI; and as a member of the KBA funneled $200,000 for “NBAF GOCO Strategy” to his company. I don't have any doubts as to which Contractor will operate the NBAF (Franz's MRIGlobal, KC, MO).

Col. Franz has never publicly testified regarding the safety & security protocols he instituted at USAMRIID; he has refused to acknowledge that his employee of 18 years, Dr. Bruce Ivins, was named the Anthrax Mailer by the FBI; which spent $millions to reach that conclusion.

The last DHS estimate for the cost of culling herds within 200 miles of the NBAF upon an "accidental" release of foot & mouth disease was $5 BILLION. Where will that money come from? A surety bond posted by MRI? A vote of Congress?

Please don't draw any comparisons of the Centers for Disease Control with the NBAF. The wastes generated by a herd of petri dishes are several magnitudes of order smaller than that of a herd of cattle, swine, or goats. The NAS found that DHS's NBAF site impact studies utilized data based upon research which has never been conducted on the scale of the NBAF.

Kansans have been fed a myopic view of the NBAF as a beneficial boon to Kansas. The collusion among the key proponents; KSU, KBA, & DHS has been orchestrated by one conductor: Col. David R. Franz.

We Kansans will be left holding the "pig in a poke" when tragedy strikes; be it accidental, or intentional.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 1 month ago

"The $1.25 billion new lab is designed to conduct research on large animals and related diseases to replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y."
What large animals? What kind of research? And what are these related diseases?

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

Currently 8 foreign animal and zoonotic* diseases planned for study (listed below require BSL-3 Ag and BSL-4 laboratory capabilities of the NBAF:

Foot & Mouth Disease Virus, Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever, Rift Valley Fever (1), Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia, and Japanese Encephalitis Virus (2), Nipah Virus and Hendra Virus (3)

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

(1) Additionally, epizootic outbreaks of Rift Valley Fever increase the likelihood of contact between diseased animals and humans, which can lead to epidemics of RVF in humans. One example occurred in 1977 when the virus was detected in Egypt (possibly imported from infected domestic animals from Sudan) and caused a large outbreak of RVF among both animals and humans resulting in over 600 human deaths.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

(2) Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus is maintained in a cycle involving mosquitoes and vertebrate hosts, mainly pigs and wading birds. Humans can be infected when bitten by an infected mosquito. Most human infections are asymptomatic or result in only mild symptoms. However, a small percentage of infected persons develop inflammation of the brain (encephalitis), with symptoms including sudden onset of headache, high fever, disorientation, coma, tremors and convulsions. About 1 in 4 cases are fatal. There is no specific treatment for JE.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

(3) Two of the three human patients infected with Hendra virus died. During the Nipah virus disease outbreak in 1998-99, 257 patients were infected with the virus. About 40% of those patients who entered hospitals with serious nervous disease died from the illness.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University has been established with $12,000,000 over 6 years from DHS to enhance capabilities by developing state-of-the-art countermeasures for high priority foreign animal and zoonotic diseases*. KSU requested $4,000,000 from the Kanss Bioscience Authority as a partial match of the funding.

*Zoonotic diseases are contagious diseases spread between animals and humans. These diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi that are carried by animals and insects. Examples are anthrax, dengue, Ebola hemorrhagic fever, Escherichia coli infection, Lyme disease, malaria, Plague, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, salmonellosis, and West Nile virus infection.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

According to the citation above, The KSU BRI was awarded this funding prior to ever receiving certification as a BioSafety Level - 3 lab.

The forensic audit of the KBA (cited previously) disclosed that ~ $200,000 was awarded to Dr. Franz's Midwest Research Institute to expedite BSL-3 certification of the BRI. It seems the million-dollar researcher, Dr. Jurgen Richt, the KBA bought from the USDA, Ames, IA, was incapable of securing certification of the BRI in a timely manner.

Leslie Swearingen 4 years, 1 month ago

Joe, thank you so much for all this information and the links. You went to an incredible amount of research to find all this.

I must confess that I read right past that part the first time I read the article and then when I went back and reread it, I thought whoa, what really is going on here?

I don't think that all of this experimentation is necessary and the money, huge amounts, that are being spent on it, could be better spent.

Joe Blackford II 4 years, 1 month ago

Leslie, you're welcome.

I live ~ 1.6 miles, as the germs fly, from thie NBAF site. My little neighborhood is NOT within the city limits & is surrounded by KSU agronoomy & beef feedlot, horse pasture, dairy barn, hog & chicken coops.

Having worked @ a TS-SCI facility, 1981-85, I was interested in how the NBAF could be operated on a basis permitting graduate students to interact with the lab, as was indicated in early KSU press releases. Residents of one of the other prospective sights inquired about TS-SCI facility status in 2008, & were told by DHS there would be one such room, "for FBI use."

As the FBI's case on the Anthrax Mailer unfolded, I began to seriously research the NBAF information. That's how I discovered KSU's proponents were in charge of the AM's lab @ USAMRIID.

IMHO, most of what has been told to the public is Propaganda. From all appearances, the NBAF was designed to be run by Col/Doc Franz from Day One. Essentially all of his expenses for the MRI GOCO lab have been hidden within the DHS & KBA grants.

IF the NBAF is needed, it should be based upon a DoD facility on a TS-SCI island, similar to those in the Marshall Islands. We don't need herds of diseased animals threatening agriculture & humans here in Kansas.

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