Press Release

Gillibrand, Bishop Call for Delay of Plum Island Sale – Urge Local Input in Process

Oct 8, 2009

Washington, DC — Today U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and
Congressman Tim Bishop called on the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)
to delay the process of selling Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC)
following the decision by Congress to block funding for the construction of its
proposed replacement, the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), a
Bio-Safety Level 4 facility, in Kansas. They urged that input of neighboring
communities on Long Island be included in discussions on the future use of the
facility and prospective buyers

The final Homeland Security Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010 prohibits
the Department of Homeland Security from using any funds to begin construction
on the proposed facility until an independent risk study is completed that
confirms it is safe to study Foot and Mouth Disease on the mainland. The bill
authorized the GSA to carry out the sale of PIADC if the Secretary of Homeland
Security determined that the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility should be
located on the mainland.

The text of the letter is copied below.

Paul Prouty
Acting Administrator
U.S. General Services Administration
Washington, DC

Dear Administrator Prouty,

As the General Services Administration prepares to sell
the land and facility of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center located off Long
Island New York, we write to you to express our reservations regarding any
decision to move forward with a sale of the facility before Congress has
approved funding to construct the proposed National Bio and Agro Defense
Facility (NBAF) to replace it and provide a plan for clean-up. 
Additionally, given the Plum Island facility’s long history and importance to
Eastern Long Island, we strongly urge you to ensure that there is appropriate
local input in the selection of a seller and the determination of the best use
of the land and facility.

The biological and agricultural research currently
conducted at Plum Island is a critical national asset that is essential to
protect our nation’s agricultural resources and our security.  Serious
concerns have been raised regarding the decision by the Department of Homeland
Security (DHS) to move the study of Foot and Mouth Disease to the
mainland.  Hearings in both House and Senate Committees and independent
reports from the Government Accountability Office have questioned the Department’s
methodology in determining the safety of the new site. Furthermore, Congress
has repeatedly blocked funding for the construction of NBAF until these
concerns are adequately addressed.  While we understand that DHS has
challenged these findings, we believe that if DHS sells Plum Island before the
approval of funding to build a new facility, the Department jeopardizes much of
the critical research currently being undertaken at Plum Island.

Additionally, if DHS does move forward with a sale of
Plum Island, we urge you to include the input of neighboring communities on
Long Island regarding the future use of the facility and prospective
buyers.  Plum Island has been a source of employment to numerous Long
Islanders for over fifty years, and it is important to ensure that Plum
Island’s new purpose will continue to contribute to the local economy. 
Additionally, local input will be important to address potential environmental
concerns with the facility and clean up any remaining environmental hazards. 
For these reasons, we hope that you will seek input from local governments and
convene additional public hearings on the matter before any final decision is
made on the island’s future use.

We appreciate your consideration of our request. 
Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Fink
with Senator Gillibrand’s office, at (202) 224-4451 or Will Jenkins with
Congressman Bishop’s office, at (202) 225-3826.


U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tim