NBAF in Kansas Task Force

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the NBAF project?
What is the lab’s function?
What research will be conducted at the NBAF?
Why did Kansas pursue this project?
What advantages does Kansas have?
What are some of the economic benefits?
Where is the site location?
Why Manhattan?
Are there safety and security issues?
Why does the current facility need to be replaced?
If Manhattan already has the Biosecurity Research Institute (BSL-3) facility, why do we need the NBAF?
What are zoonotic diseases?
Who will own the lab?
What is the timeline for the project?
What was the EIS process?
Were there opportunities for public input?

What is the NBAF project?
The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) is the answer to an important national challenge — to ensure public health and the safety and security of our national food supply. The NBAF will be a $650 million, 500,000 square foot facility in Manhattan, Kan., that will provide integrated research, response, and diagnostic capabilities to protect animal and public health. The NBAF will replace an aging federal facility located at Plum Island, New York.

What is the lab’s function?
As a biosafety level 4 laboratory, the NBAF will provide the nation with integrated research and response capabilities to protect animal and public health. The facility also will enhance the nation’s capability to protect livestock and the livestock industry from both naturally occurring and intentionally introduced disease threats. The NBAF willl conduct research on emerging zoonotic and animal diseases in order to develop vaccine countermeasures for foreign animal diseases and advanced test and evaluation capabilities.

What research will be conducted at the NBAF?
The NBAF will research biological threats that affect human, zoonotic, and foreign animal diseases. Researchers will conduct microbiological tests and develop vaccines and therapeutics (the same testing that is done in private sectors) to prevent and help combat these diseases.

Why did Kansas pursue this project?
Kansas cares deeply about protecting the American food supply and agriculture economy and has unique capabilities and infrastructure to contribute to the NBAF research mission.

What advantages does Kansas have?
Kansas offered the federal government a solution, not a site. The state is uniquely qualified for the NBAF because of its location and because it has the right kind of scientific assets and expertise in place to be applied immediately. Kansas has long-standing expertise in medicine, veterinary sciences, and research. Specifically, Kansas State University has nationally recognized expertise in zoonotic diseases, infectious diseases, and livestock medicine. In addition, K-State is home to the Biosecurity Research Institute (a BSL-3 and BSL-3 Ag lab) and the National Agricultural Biosecurity Center. NBAF research can be conducted at the BRI while the NBAF is being built. The proximity to the Kansas City region’s Animal Health Corridor (www.kcanimalhealth.com) also is a distinctive advantage. The region is home to more than 120 animal health companies — including 37 global leaders — that employ 13,000 animal health specialists.

What are some of the economic benefits?
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a state that values agriculture and biosecurity. The NBAF will create jobs, stimulate the state’s innovation economy, and heighten Kansas’ position as a national bioscience leader. The $650 million NBAF will create up to 1,500 construction jobs and 450 permanent jobs at the lab. It will generate an estimated economic impact of $3.5 billion in its first 20 years and create a magnet for private biotechnology companies, professionals, and support infrastructure. It also will result in collaborative opportunities for existing universities and research institutions and will help attract more top-flight researchers to the area.

Where is the site location?
The Department of Homeland Security selected a site on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan. The site provides land acquisition potential; highway access; environmental compatibility; adequate utility infrastructure; an available local work force for skilled labor and academic research; and proximity to agricultural, academic, medical and bioscience resources.

Why Manhattan?
Manhattan is home to Kansas State University — long recognized for its expertise in zoonotic, emerging, and reemerging infectious diseases and livestock medicine. The university’s National Agricultural Biosecurity Center and the newly built Biosecurity Research Institute (the nation’s most modern BSL-3 agricultural facility of its kind) demonstrate that state and local communities understand the significance of this type of research and can build a large-scale federal facility on time and on budget.

Are there safety and security issues?
No. The NBAF is intended to protect our nation, and the safety and security of the site itself, as well as the surrounding community, will be of paramount importance. The NBAF will contain a BSL-4 lab, which will be completely self-contained and isolated from all other areas of the facility. Six existing BSL-4 facilities are in operation, five of which are located in large metro areas. There has never been a public exposure at a BSL-4 facility in the U.S. The facility will have a specially designed air-handling system that will prevent the release of any hazardous materials into the research space. All waste materials will be sterilized, heat treated, and/or decontaminated with disposal strictly regulated. Employees will be strictly supervised by experts in foreign animal and zoonotic diseases.

Why does the current facility need to be replaced?
The facility at Plum Island is over 50 years old and too small to meet America’s increasing research needs. In addition to lack of space, Plum Island does not have BSL-4 capabilities to be able to conduct research on the latest emerging zoonotic and animal diseases.

If Manhattan already has the Biosecurity Research Institute (BSL-3) facility, why do we need the NBAF?
The NBAF and BRI will be complementary facilities. The BRI is a 113,000 square foot facility designed for research on pathogens and pests that threaten the nation’s animal and plant-based agricultural systems. It is the only research facility to integrate plant pathology, food safety, entomology, veterinary medicine, and molecular biology. As a BSL-4 facility, the NBAF will take the research of BRI a step further. It will be a livestock capable laboratory that will work on developing countermeasures for emerging zoonotic and animal diseases.

What are zoonotic diseases?
Zoonotic diseases are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. Examples are rabies, tuberculosis, and Lyme disease.

Who will own the lab?
The federal government will own the facility. The NBAF will support the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

What is the timeline for the project?
In March 2006, the Heartland BioAgro Consortium and 28 other interested organizations submitted formal expressions of interest to DHS. In August 2006, DHS reduced the list to 18 sites in 11 states for the next phase of the competitive process. In July 2007, DHS further reduced the list to five sites in five states, including Kansas, and began preparing the environmental impact statement (EIS), which is an extremely thorough review of the site locations.

The final EIS, issued in December 2008, was prepared following the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and recommended Kansas as the preferred NBAF location. The record of decision documenting DHS’ final decision to build the NBAF in Kansas was signed on January 12, 2009, and published in the Federal Register on January 16, 2009.

The project was reviewed by the Obama Administration, and the decision to locate the NBAF in Kansas on the merits was affirmed by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano during her visit to Kansas State University in February.

Facility design is underway with plans for construction to begin in 2010. It is expected the NBAF will be operational by 2015.

What was the EIS process?
Each site underwent a year-long process to prepare an environmental impact statement (EIS), an extremely thorough and technical review. This process was led by DHS and considered environmental and ecological effects, as well as the overall viability of the site locations.

Were there opportunities for public input?
Yes. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, there were extensive opportunities for public comment and involvement, including at public meetings organized by DHS in Manhattan in August 2007 and July 2008. Public input also was welcomed via phone, e-mail, and mail, and all comments on the environmental impact statement were considered before the record of decision was issued.