After more than a decade of controversy and delays, the nation’s most secure laboratory for researching deadly animal and plant diseases has opened in Manhattan, Kansas.
Although a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, researchers at the $1.25 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility are not expected to begin work on the biohazard for more than a year, officials said.
Meanwhile, staff will work on tracking and control, planning protocols and procedures and training before working with pathogens, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. report.
“They will check all the systems according to international standards and international standards,” said NBAF director, Alfonso Clavijo. “And when we get that approval, we will be able to do any work. We hope that by the end of 2024, we will have a license. “
Originally estimated at $451 million, the price was more than doubled after the National Research Council published a report in 2010 that questioned the location of the site in the heart of cattle country with a history of devastating hurricanes.
Homeland Security officials said the higher cost was due to changes the lab made to reduce the chance of releasing pathogens.
The laboratory replaces an aging facility on Plum Island, New York. Officials there fought hard to keep the lab and several other states applied to house the lab before Kansas was elected in 2009.
Originally expected to open in 2016, the construction of the laboratory it was delayed several times and economic problems, security concerns and political resistance who wanted the project to be carried out in their countries.
The northeast Kansas facility will be the only type 4 protected large animal facility, which means it will be able to deal with pathogens that currently have no drugs or methods to control them.
It’s unclear when the parasites used in the research will be moved from Plum Island to Kansas, spokeswoman Katie Pawlosky said, and no animals or equipment will be moved.
About 280 people work at the lab, which is expected to have more than 400 people when it is fully operational.