New national biosecurity lab opens in Kansas

After greater than a decade of controversy and delays, the nation’s most safe biosecurity laboratory for analysis on doubtlessly lethal animal and plant ailments has opened in Manhattan, Kansas.

Though a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Wednesday, researchers on the $1.25 billion Nationwide Bio and Agro-Protection Facility aren’t anticipated to start engaged on biohazards for greater than a 12 months, officers mentioned.

For now, employees will conduct compliance and regulatory work, put together protocols and working procedures and prepare earlier than working with any pathogens, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

“They’ll test all of the programs based on the worldwide requirements and nationwide requirements,” NBAF director Alfonso Clavijo mentioned. “And solely after now we have that approval will we be capable to really do any work. We count on that by late 2024, we must always be capable to have that approval.”

Initially estimated to price $451 million, the worth tag greater than doubled after the Nationwide Analysis Council revealed a report in 2010 that questioned placing the power within the coronary heart of cattle nation with a historical past of huge, harmful tornadoes.

Division of Homeland Safety officers mentioned the elevated price got here partly as a result of the lab’s design was modified to scale back the opportunity of releasing lethal pathogens.

The laboratory replaces an growing old facility in Plum Island, New York. Officers there fought laborious to maintain the lab and a number of other different states made bids to grow to be dwelling to the lab earlier than Kansas was chosen in 2009.

Initially anticipated to open in 2016, development of the laboratory was delayed a number of instances by financial issues, security considerations and resistance from politicians who needed the mission of their states.

The northeastern Kansas facility would be the nation’s solely large-animal biosafety Stage 4 lab, which suggests it is going to be in a position to deal with pathogens that don’t at present have therapies or countermeasures.

It’s unclear when pathogens utilized in analysis might be moved from Plum Island to Kansas, spokesperson Katie Pawlosky mentioned, and no animals or tools might be transferred.

About 280 individuals at present work on the lab, which is anticipated to have greater than 400 individuals when totally staffed.

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