DHS Signs Land Transfer For Kansas Biosecurity Lab

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Department of Homeland Security officials have signed a land transfer agreement that will allow for the construction of a new federal animal research lab near Kansas State University in Manhattan.

DHS will acquire about 46 acres of land near the north end of Kansas State for the lab. The transfer clears the way for construction to begin.

Officials say the site provides land acquisition potential, highway access, environmental compatibility, adequate utility infrastructure, an available local work force for both skilled labor and academic research, and proximity to agriculture, academic, medical and bioscience resources.

Gov. Sam Brownback and members of the state's congressional delegation announced Wednesday that the move indicated the federal department is committed to building the $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility. Kansas was selected for the new animal research lab after a lengthy competition in 2009.

The lab would replace an aging facility at Plum Island, N.Y., where research would be conducted on deadly animal pathogens, including foot and mouth disease. It will help develop countermeasures to the diseases.

Governor Brownback and the federal delegation said they will continue to pursue federal funding for the facility.

U.S. Senator Pat Roberts said he expects to see a groundbreaking on NBAF's Central Utilities Plant in 2013.

The state of Kansas has committed $105 million of matching state funds to the project and $35 million in research funding for transitioning NBAF to Manhattan.