A Kentucky-Tennessee consortium advanced efforts to attract the proposed federal National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to Pulaski County, Ky., meeting with a delegation of U. S. Department of Homeland Security and U. S. Department of Agriculture officials.
Kentucky Fifth District Congressman Hal Rogers, Gov. Ernie Fletcher and representatives from the Universities of Kentucky, Louisville and Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory went over the proposal with the DHS and USDA team April 23.
Last year the consortium submitted one of 29 proposals from across the country to locate the NBAF in a rural area about 10 miles northeast of Somerset, Ky. DHS subsequently whittled down the sites under consideration to 18. Pulaski County remains in competition for this federal laboratory that will research high-consequence biological threats involving human, zoonotic and foreign animal diseases.
“We are moving forward with what is a detailed process to choose the best place in the country for this research lab,” said Congressman Rogers. “The consortium partners made a compelling case today, but there is tough competition among the other finalists.”
Gov. Fletcher said the Kentucky-Tennessee NBAF Consortium representatives responded to questions from DHS about the proposal to locate the lab here.
“These questions dealt largely with infrastructure development at the proposed site, research capabilities of the consortium partners and leveraging campus assets,” he said.
Rogers and Fletcher said the consortium representatives described the qualifications of the universities and Oak Ridge National Laboratory that fulfill the criteria that DHS established for the NBAF site. Other qualifications focused on location, infrastructure and physical attributes of the property.
The NBAF will integrate public and animal health research central to national security by assessing and researching evolving bioterrorism threats and enabling the Departments of Homeland Security, Agriculture and Health and Human Services to accomplish research, development, testing, and evaluation responsibilities.
DHS officials said a limited number of sites will be selected by June for further consideration. A thorough environmental impact assessment process will be initiated at remaining sites this summer. DHS expects to announce the final site selection in October 2008 with operations beginning by 2014.
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