Here’s some frightening news for Americans. The USDA is now operating a bio lab, how exciting right?
The USDA will operate the new $1.25 billion biosafety level-4 laboratories the federal government is building in Manhattan, KS. A biosafety level 4 laboratory provides the highest level of containment facilities to isolate the most dangerous biological agents, meaning those with high fatality rates and no known treatments, such as the Ebola virus.
The new National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC), which since 1954 has defended against the accidental or intentional introduction of foreign animal diseases.
The mysterious Plum Island, which has been off-limits to the public for more than a century, will have a new future most likely as a nature preserve and historical site.
All of these moves have been in the works since shortly after 9/11, but are now coming together in relatively short order.
Last week the departments of Homeland Security and Agriculture inked an agreement. Homeland will remain responsible for completing the construction and commissioning of the new biosafety level-4 lab in Kansas. The USDA will own and operate the facility when it is completed and is accountable for operational planning in the meantime.
Construction is on schedule for a December 2020 completion, with commissioning set for the May 2021 when USDA gets the title to the facility. It is expected to be fully operational in December 2022. PIADC will continue to operate until the mission transitions to the NBAF in 2023.
“NBAF will be the first facility in the United States with maximum biocontainment, BSL-4 labs, where we can develop vaccines and diagnostics for high-consequence animal diseases–including those that can also affect human health,” said Greg Ibach, USDA’s undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs.
You can read more from our friends at Food Safety News.