August 9, 2022
Fargo, US 80 F

Homeland Security chief says $1.1 billion needed to safeguard new facility

The Homeland Security Department is planning to relocate the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility to a site in Kansas near thousands of head of cattle that is frequently hit by dangerous tornadoes. The plan is set to spend as much as $1 billion to relocate the agricultural disease research lab from an island off New York to Kansas.

At a recent Senate hearing, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told Montana Senator Jon Tester that reducing the risk of a disease outbreak and incorporating new security recommendations would increase the cost of moving the facility to approximately $1.1 billion – more than double some original estimates.

Tester says that due to the new cost estimate and the project’s uncertainty, the department needs to reconsider its plan to build the facility in Kansas.

“While I am encouraged DHS recognizes the additional steps required to significantly reduce the risk of an outbreak, I remain greatly concerned about the cost-effectiveness of investing additional taxpayer dollars into this facility,” Tester wrote Napolitano.  “I believe that greater scrutiny needs to be placed on any future allocations of taxpayer dollars toward this facility.”

Tester has also questioned if Napolitano has considered upgrading the New York facility or moving the installation to an alternative location.

Due to Tester’s long-standing concerns about moving the facility to Kansas, the Administration did not request any new construction funding in its recent budget while Homeland Security fully assesses the facility’s safety risks and associated costs.

“The cattle industry is grateful for Senator Tester’s persistence in preventing the Department of Homeland Security from unnecessarily exposing our U.S. cattle herd to an increased risk of foot-and-mouth disease, which would most certainly occur if the facility were moved to America’s Heartland in Kansas,” said Bill Bullard, CEO of R-CALF USA – the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America.

Tester previously added language to 2009 legislation that required the National Academy of Sciences to study the Department of Homeland Security’s safety analysis and response plan in case of an accidental release of a contagious livestock disease at the facility.

The report estimated the probability of a disease outbreak from the proposed Kansas facility at nearly 70 percent over the next 50 years.

Source: Office of Senator Tester

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