The NAS Report on NBAF is a Game Changer
Posted by tmanney on December 4, 2010
When the the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) selected Manhattan as the site for the NBAF there was little this group could do until the funding process worked its way through Congress. Because of the concerns raised by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) Congress instructed DHS to complete a “site-specific biosafety and biosecurity risk assessment (SSRA)”. They also directed the National Research Council to conduct an independent evaluation of this SSRA to determine its adequacy and validity. Congress would not release construction funds until these were completed and evaluated. We had to wait for the outcome of these even though the DHS/KSU/Kansas Bioscience Authority (KBA) started site preparation on the KSU campus using Kansas State and local funding. These documents were released last month. But Congress has not appropriated any funds for construction. This can still be stopped.
The NRC evaluation found many serious faults in the DHS plans that call into question the decision to build the NBAF in Manhattan. The composition of the NRC commission included leading experts in most, if not all, of the fields relevant to this incredibly complicated project. Their 11 findings echoed the objections opponents to the NBAF (including us) had raised, which were based on the concerns raised by the GAO more than two years ago. These findings reinforce our resolve that it is simply unacceptable for this facility to be built on the KSU campus in Manhattan. The findings concerning the risk of release of the Foot and Mouth Disease virus (FMDv) further reinforce our resolve that it is unacceptable to study this disease in large animals on the mainland of the United States.
To address these issues and work toward the goal of persuading Congress to refuse to fund this project, we have regrouped under a new name, but with the same objectives. We will now identify our goal to be Biosecurity For the Heartland. We will soon move these efforts to a new web site under that name. The only weapon we have at our disposal is information. We can shine light on the facts that are a matter of public record and on the efforts by the proponents of this project to obscure those facts that challenge the project’s safety.
Because of the urgency of preventing the funding of this project, we will focus our efforts on the members of Congress who will be making this decision: the members of the House and Senate Appropriation Committees, starting with the members of those committees who serve on their Homeland Security subcommittees. To get our message to these members of Congress we will do our best to recruit those people who have the most to lose in the event of an FMD catastrophe: the livestock growers and the organizations that represent them. But Foot and Mouth Disease isn’t the only threat from this facility. This germ lab is designed to study the most deadly diseases that infect both animals and people. These are diseases that are deadly to people and for which there is no known vaccine or cure. Every person who lives in the long shadow of this facility must understand the risks.
Biosecurity For the Heartland is a coalition of area residents who want to stop this madness by honest, rational information sharing and discourse. None of us have anything to gain by the defeat of NBAF except a safer place to live and raise our families.
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