After more than a decade of controversy and delay, the nation’s safest biosecurity laboratory for the study of potentially deadly plant and animal diseases has opened in Manhattan, Kansas.
Officials said that although the ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, researchers at the $1.25 billion National Biological and Agricultural Defense Facility were not expected to. started studying biohazards for over a year.
Currently, staff will conduct compliance and regulatory work, prepare protocols, operating procedures and training prior to working with any pathogens, The Topeka Capital-Journal report.
NBAF director Alfonso Clavijo said: “They will test all the systems against international and national standards. “And only after that approval can we actually do any work. We hope that by the end of 2024 we will be able to get that approval.”
Originally estimated at $451 million, the price more than doubled after the National Research Council released a report in 2010 that questioned the location of the facility in the heart of the nation’s livestock. cattle have a history of large, destructive tornadoes.
Department of Homeland Security officials say the increased costs are in part because the design of the lab has been changed to reduce the potential for the release of deadly pathogens.
The laboratory replaces an aging facility in Plum Island, New York. Officials there fought hard to keep the lab, and several other states bid to become the lab’s headquarters before Kansas was selected in 2009.
Originally scheduled to open in 2016, lab building has been delayed many times because of economic problems, safety concerns and resistance from politicians wanting the project in their state.
The facility in northeast Kansas will be the nation’s only large animal biosafety level 4 laboratory, meaning it will be able to handle pathogens that currently have no treatments or measures. deal.
Spokesperson Katie Pawlosky said it is unclear when the pathogens used in the study will be transferred from Plum Island to Kansas, and no animals or equipment will be transferred.
About 280 people are currently working at the lab, which is expected to number more than 400 when fully staffed.