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.
Amid mushrooming costs and persistent questions about safety, The National Research Council will issue a report on Friday. The highly anticipated study will evaluate whether the proposed Biosafety Level 4 lab should move forward as planned.
The NRC, part of the National Academies of Science, was asked to study three possibilities:
- whether the NBAF should go forward as planned;
- whether a smaller, less expensive version of the proposal would be adequate; and
- whether the whole thing should be scrapped. Under this scenario, the lab would remain at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, where it is currently located. Additional research on large animals would be outsourced to labs in other countries.
The study was requested by the Department of Homeland Security, which would have jurisdiction over the lab. DHS undersecretary Tara O’Toole said earlier this year that the growing cost of the proposed lab may not be justified in light of other DHS priorities. Cost estimates for the NBAF started at $415 million more than five years ago and have escalated to $1.1 billion.
An NRC report earlier this month found current design plans did not ensure the safety and security of the NBAF.
The Kansas delegation in Washington, as well as state and Kansas State University officials, vow the project will be built on the K-State campus. Ground has been broken on the site, but construction stalled pending the release of funds from Congress.
For more NBAF coverage, visit KCUR's Tracking NBAF page.
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