Tracking NBAF: National Bio And Agro-Defense Facility Takes Shape In Kansas

In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the old Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island with a facility on the U.S. mainland to study Foot and Mouth Disease and other dangerous pathogens. Kansas won the job in 2008, with a site on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan.

But today, more than three years later, the proposed $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility faces funding obstacles, safety questions, rising costs and political fallout. For Kansas and the Midwest, the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Here you’ll find coverage and updates from Harvest Public Media, KCUR and Kansas Public Media.


7:56 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

NBAF Will Be Finished If Funds Come Through, Say Lawmakers

Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Reginald Brothers got a tour of the NBAF site with Senators Pat Roberts and Tim Huelskamp.
Credit Laura Ziegler

Three members of the Kansas Congressional delegation were in Manhattan, Kan., Friday to see the first stage of construction on the $1.2 billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, or the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

Joining Senators Jerry Moran, Pat Roberts and Congressman Tim Huelskamp was Dr. Reginald Brothers. Brothers will oversee the facility as an undersecretary with the federal Department of Homeland Security.

Talking to reporters after the tour, Brothers said he was happy with what he saw.

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12:53 pm
Tue June 24, 2014

K-State Says Proposed Funding For NBAF Is A Big Step Forward

U.S. Department of Homeland Security rendering of finished facility.
Credit courtesy photo / U.S. Department of Homeland Security

A U.S. Senate subcommittee has appropriated $300 million in funding for the National Bio and Agro- Defense Facility , or NBAF, in Manhattan, Kan.

Ron Trewyn, vice president for research at Kansas State University, says this week's appropriation for a top-security animal disease lab on Kansas State's campus will allow the Department Of Homeland Security lab be finished.

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9:40 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Big Boost For NBAF In New Budget Bill

Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts sit with Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback at the NBAF groundbreaking in Manhattan, Kan., in May, 2013.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Finally — a chunk of federal funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), has made it through Congress.  The $1.1 trillion appropriations bill that sailed through Congress this week makes it possible for construction to begin on the animal disease lab in Manhattan, Kansas.

It would be the first federal funding for the controversial project since 2011.

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Tracking NBAF
11:13 am
Mon September 30, 2013

Sale Of Plum Island May Stall, Impact On NBAF Uncertain

When the Department of Homeland Security authorized funding for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in 2009, proceeds from the sale of New York’s Plum Island were expected to entirely offset the cost of the Kansas-based lab.

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Cops & Crime
8:24 am
Wed September 25, 2013

Indictment Handed Down For Alleged Embezzlement At K-State

The Biosecurity Research Center or BRI is doing research on animal disease.
Credit Kansas State University

The former office manager for an animal disease research lab at Kansas State University faces a maximum of 10 years in jail and $750,000 in fines if convicted of embezzling federal funds. 

Linda Kay Miller, 51, of Alma, Kan. has been indicted on charges of signing federal grant monies over to her own bank account. The funds were to go for research at the Biosecurity Research Center in Pat Roberts Hall at K-State. 

U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Miller allegedly made herself the payee of checks totaling about $13,000.

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8:10 am
Fri July 19, 2013

Senate Committee Advances NBAF Funding

Both the U.S. Senate and House have approved the same amount of funding for NBAF.
Bryan Thompson Kansas Public Radio

Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts say funding for a federal lab to be built in Manhattan has passed an important hurdle.

The National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, will study diseases that could be used to attack the nation's food supply. A Senate subcommittee voted earlier this week to approve more than $400 million for the lab.

Moran says that a full Senate committee has now also voted to approve the funding.

“It is a determining factor in NBAF’s future,” says Moran.

11:47 am
Mon June 3, 2013

NBAF Breaks Ground In Manhattan

Federal, state, and local officials pitch the first ceremonial shovel of dirt on the federal NBAF facility.
Credit Sherriene Jones Sontag

There was a lot of hand-shaking and back-slapping at the recent groundbreaking for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kan. Soon, the first construction will begin on an independent utility plant for the top-security animal disease lab.  

It’s been 4 and a half  years since the Department of Homeland Security awarded the project to Kansas, and it's been a rocky road to this point.

For a long time, the 46-acre site in a north corner of the Kansas State University campus has been fenced off,  guarded by security,  with an Olympic pool-size hole inside. 

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7:52 am
Wed May 29, 2013

Officials Break Ground On NBAF Power Plant

Federal, state and local officials broke ground on the NBAF facility Tuesday in Manhattan, Kan.
Credit Shierrene Jones Sontag / Governor's office

Federal , state, and local officials gathered Tuesday afternoon at a ceremonial groundbreaking for a power plant on the site of the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

The so-called Central Utility Plant is Phase 2 of the Department of Homeland Security project - a high level bio-containment animal disease lab that will studying emerging and foreign animal diseases.

Congress allocated $40 million for the power plant in 2011.

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11:33 am
Thu May 23, 2013

Sen. Roberts: NBAF Construction Set To Begin

The DHS animal disease lab known as NBAF will begin construction Tuesday, May 28th, according to Kansas Senator Pat Roberts.
Credit Department of Homeland Security

Groundbreaking for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility will take place next Tuesday in Manhattan, Kansas according to a release from Senator Robert's office.

Cost sharing for this phase of the animal disease lab will be about equal - 50/50- for the independent power plant required on the 48 acre site at Kansas State University. Both Kansas and the federal government are putting in roughly $40 million.

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9:44 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Kan. Senate Gives First Round Approval For Additional NBAF Funds

Funds allocated by the state of Kansas and the federal government will help get building going at the NBAF site in Manhattan, Kan.
Credit Laura Ziegler / KCUR

Kansas Senators Tuesday gave first round approval for new spending in support of a controversial federal animal disease lab Manhattan.

Some Democrats as well as some in Gov. Brownback’s own party have questioned whether the state should commit an additional $202 million in bonds, on top of $145 million already spent in support of the federal lab.

Doubters in the legislature worry the state will be on the hook for cost overruns as the project continues.

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9:26 am
Fri May 10, 2013

Kansas House Committee Approves NBAF Bonds

The House Appropriations Committee has approved an amended version of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback’s proposal to issue more bonds for a federal lab in Manhattan. They delayed a decision Wednesday on the governor's proposal to help fund the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility, but after a briefing from Brownback's chief of staff, the committee approved the plan for $200 million in bonds.

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4:10 pm
Fri April 26, 2013

NBAF Not Get Built? Brownback Says It Could Happen Without State Support

The NBAF is scheduled for completion in 5-7 years.

Kansas Governor Sam Brownback says if Kansas lawmakers won't approve additional funds for the National Bio And Agro-Defense Facility, there's a chance it won't get built.  And that's a risk he's not willing to take,  he said over the weekend on a stop in Kansas City, Kansas. 

President Obama's FY2014 budget requested $714 million for the top security animal disease lab proposed for Manhattan, Kansas.  As part of that request, the state was asked to contribute  $202 million. That's in addition to almost $150 million Kansas has already committed.

Some Republicans in Topeka suggest Governor Brownback’s request for an additional $202 million in bonds for the proposed animal disease lab represents a “moving target,” and want to be reassured the state isn’t going to be responsible for more than it can afford for a federal facility.

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9:33 am
Thu April 11, 2013

$714 Million For NBAF In Obama Budget

NBAF sign on I-70, near Manhattan.
Bryan Thompson Kansas Public Radio

President Obama's 2014 budget proposal includes $714 million for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.  It’s the state-of-the-art biosecurity lab planned for Manhattan, adjacent to Kansas State University. 

In response to the budget announcement, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback immediately pledged to work with lawmakers during the upcoming veto session to approve state bonds to help complete the lab.  The President is asking for an additional $202 million in state support for the project. 

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Tracking NBAF
11:08 am
Wed April 10, 2013

President's Budget Includes Funds For NBAF In Manhattan

President Obama presenting his FY2014 Budget this morning. It includes $714 million for animal disease research, but isn't specific about funding NBAF.

President Obama’s 2014 budget proposal to Congress asks for funds to “develop countermeasures for diseases originating from large animals that can be transmitted to humans, "  including $714 million for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

The news has already been  interpreted by supporters as a green light for the $1.15-billion federal animal disease lab known as NBAF, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, in Manhattan, Kansas.

Senator Pat Roberts said the proposal represents the administration’s support for NBAF.

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10:02 am
Tue April 9, 2013

Kansas Moves Agriculture Department To Manhattan

The Kansas Secretary of Agriculture says he’s moving most of state Agriculture Department to Manhattan. Secretary Dale Rodman says the agriculture in Kansas will benefit from being part of what he’s calling “the synergies” between Kansas State University and a burgeoning animal and plant science industry.

The move will allow the Kansas department to work more closely and avoid redundancies with bioscience research and commerce already going on in Manhattan.

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Tracking NBAF
3:50 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

White House Budget Office Responds To Concerns About NBAF

Supporters believe funding the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is critical to protecting our nation's food supply. Detractors in Congress have asked the President not to fund it next year.
Credit Laura Ziegler

A senior official from the President’s Office of Management and Budget told two Congressmen he would be mindful of their concerns regarding the cost and safety of the proposed National Bio and Ago-Defense Facility (NBAF) in considering how much to allocate for NBAF in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.

OMB Deputy Director of Management Jeffrey Zients told Congressmen Tim Bishop and Joe Courtney that the administration was forced to evaluate the proposal for a new large-animal disease lab in the context of current budget constraints.

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Tracking NBAF
2:28 pm
Tue March 5, 2013

Federal Government Releases Money For Animal Disease Lab

Tim Barr, Dept of Homeland Security site manager for the NBAF site in Manhattan, Kansas.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

It’s not often that a press release comes out under the name of an entire Congressional delegation, even one as ideologically joined at the hip as this group from Kansas.

But that’s exactly what happened last month.

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Tracking NBAF
2:21 am
Wed February 20, 2013

Kansas Senator Says NBAF Going Forward With Release Of New Funds

The NBAF site in Manhattan will change for the first time in years if construction begins on an electric plant.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

Kansas Senator Pat Roberts said in an interview Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security will announce on Thursday its plans to release funds to get the stalled National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility started. 

The so-called NBAF has had difficulty getting off the ground. Senator Roberts chairs an NBAF steering committee and is the project's guiding light in Congress. The new funding is expected to enable the start of construction on a central electric plant -- a requirement for the billion dollar lab.

$90 million in federal funds are available for the NBAF.

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Tracking NBAF
11:42 am
Thu January 17, 2013

Kansas Cattlemen Reject Proposed Biosecurity Lab

The proposed site of the NBAF lab in Manhattan, Kan.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

A limited survey of members of the Kansas Cattlemen’s Association has found little support for building the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kan.

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Tracking NBAF
11:49 am
Thu January 3, 2013

Feds Officially Gain Control Of Land For Top Security Lab

Laura Ziegler KCUR

The Department of Homeland Security officially took ownership of 46 acres in Manhattan, Kansas this week for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

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Tracking NBAF
11:38 am
Mon December 31, 2012

NBAF Officially Gets Land: A Green Light For Troubled Project?

The site for the proposed federal National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

We return now to a story we’ve been covering on an ongoing basis: The debate over the billion-dollar  animal disease lab under construction – maybe – in Manhattan, Kansas.

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7:42 am
Tue December 11, 2012

Kansas Faces Fiscal Cliff

The University of Campus Kansas in Lawrence seen at sunset. KU would suffer tens of millions of dollars cuts in federal grants if no deal is reached between Congress and President Obama.
KU flickr

Budget negotiations between President Obama and Congressional leaders continue, but if those talks fail, Kansas will see a series of funding cuts that will affect the future of higher education, research, and military bases in the state.

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Tracking NBAF
8:59 am
Sat July 21, 2012

NBAF May Get Boost As Government Report Says 'Sell Plum Island'

A government report encourages sale of Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the only place in the U.S. where research on Foot and Mouth Disease is currently being done.

It could be good news for supporters of the NBAF,  the top-level biosecurity lab proposed for Manhattan, Kan.

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5:49 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

Less May Mean More For Federal Animal Disease Lab

The National Academies of Sciences issued a set of 10 conclusions today on the future of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas

The report says while there is a critical need for a so-called BSL4 lab to research the most dangerous emerging diseases that affect particularly livestock, it said the current NBAF proposal would be better... smaller.

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Tracking NBAF, DHS, NBAF,
12:00 pm
Fri July 13, 2012

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back For K-State Animal Lab?

Critics say rural America could be devastated by an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease, which the NBAF would research.
Laura Ziegler KCUR

The National Academies of Science issued a set of 10 conclusions today on the future of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan, Kansas.

The report says while there is a critical need for a so-called BSL4 lab that will research the most dangerous emerging diseases to affect particularly livestock, it said the current NBAF proposal might be too big and too costly.

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Tracking NBAF
9:02 am
Thu July 12, 2012

Another New Report To Shed Light On NBAF's Future

The proposed NBAF lab at in Manhattan, Kan., would study ways to guard the nation's food supply against diseases like bird flu and Mad Cow disease.
Harvest Public Media

The future of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility in Manhattan is under the microscope this week for the second time in just over a month.

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Tracking NBAF
8:29 am
Mon June 18, 2012

NBAF's Real Risk Is Still Anyone's Guess

Though ground had been broken for NBAF in February, funding and security questions have stalled the project.
Laura Ziegler Harvest Public Media

A committee of the National Research Council says an updated risk assessment of a proposed high-security biodefense lab in Manhattan, Kan., appears to understate the chances of deadly pathogens being accidentally released. 

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Tracking NBAF
12:08 pm
Fri June 15, 2012

Report Slams NBAF Risk Assessment

The National Research Council's report on the NBAF risk assessment.
National Research Council

"Not trustworthy."

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Tracking NBAF
12:57 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Update On Risks At Animal Disease Lab Out Tomorrow

In a highly anticipated announcement, the National Academies of Science said that it will release a congressionally mandated report on risk associated with the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) this Friday. 

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