DHS Assessment Reduces Risk Factor For Kansas Lab

By: AP Posted by Josh Mabry
By: AP Posted by Josh Mabry

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ A new assessment on the proposed National
Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility in Kansas concludes that changes in
the lab's design have sharply reduced the risk for accidental
release of deadly diseases.

The assessment released Friday by the Department of Homeland
Security updates a report issued in 2010. The new document puts the
risk of an accidental release at one-tenth of 1 percent, down from
the previous calculation of a 70 percent chance of release.

Supporters credit design changes made since the first report for
the lower risk.

Homeland Security plans to build the lab in Manhattan near
Kansas State University. The assessment calculated the risk to the
human population living near the lab, as well as the large number
of livestock in the region.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) issued the following statements upon the release of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Updated Site-Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA) for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. To comply with congressional requirements, DHS updated the 2010 NBAF SSRA by incorporating recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the most recent design plans.

“The safety of NBAF’s research is a top priority and this updated report confirms that the NBAF design is sound,” Sen. Moran said. “DHS included recommendations for reducing risk, used the latest biocontainment technology, and brought in top experts to ensure NBAF will be the safest and most modern research facility in the world. Without NBAF, our country remains at risk from foreign animal disease outbreaks. It is critical that construction of NBAF begins immediately to safeguard against these threats and the devastation they would cause.”

“I am pleased by the updated assessment’s confirmation of what we always knew, Manhattan is the safest and best place for this facility to be built,” Sen. Roberts said. “The de minimis risk of outbreak should help allay concerns from any opposition, in the public or Congress. Now that this study has been delivered to Congress, I eagerly await DHS to begin construction on the Central Utilities Plant. This report fills the Congressional requirements to release the funds and I expect DHS to do so.”

Select findings from the Updated Site-Specific Risk Assessment:

· As part of its on-going risk management process and to comply with recent congressional requirements, DHS updated the 2010 NBAF Site-Specific Risk Assessment by: incorporating the current 65 percent design elements, and specifically addressing the NAS SSRA Committee recommendations.
· This updated SSRA assessment indicates that the NBAF 65 percent design is sound and has no evident fundamental flaws or design features that would prohibit the implementation of the best and safest practices used in animal and zoonotic pathogen research facilities.
· Since the 15 percent design phase and completion of the 2010 SSRA, DHS has incorporated recommendations to include additional mitigation measures for carcass disposal systems, liquid waste treatment and management, fully redundant dual-HEPA exhaust systems, and tornado hardening. In addition, DHS has continued to advance operations and response plans that also reduce risks.
· Updated SSRA estimates the expected probability that an accidental release of viable Foot and Mouth Disease (FMDv) resulting in a subsequent outbreak during the NBAF’s 50-year operating lifetime is de minimis – approximately one tenth of one percent (0.11%).
· The most current NBAF design provides for maintaining laboratory containment even in tornado events with winds up to ~228 mph. The biocontainment areas have been designed to a standard that is similar to that applied in the nuclear industry for structural and containment building integrity in a tornado event. As modeled, the expected return period for the catastrophic earthquake is 2,500 years and for a catastrophic tornado the expected return frequency is 14.2 million years.

The NBAF, a state-of-the-art biosecurity lab, is to be built adjacent to Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The facility will replace the antiquated foreign animal disease research facility at Plum Island, NY, which has a limited capacity to respond to animal disease threats.

Jenkins Responds to DHS Report on Safety of NBAF
WASHINGTON – This morning, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released their updated site-specific risk assessment (SSRA) for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) being constructed in Manhattan, Kansas. This most recent study is a comprehensive look at the NBAF design taking into account all the proposed safety and mitigation plans that will be put into place when the facility is operational. The SSRA found that in the 50-year operating lifetime of the NBAF there is less than a 0.11% chance of an accidental release and subsequent outbreak of a virus when catastrophic events such as tornados and earthquakes are taken into account and less than a 0.008% chance when catastrophic events are excluded.

Congresswoman Jenkins released the following statement after DHS released the results of the SSRA this morning:

“This study by the Department of Homeland Security confirms, yet again, what the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, Congress and the Kansas Delegation have been saying for years. Manhattan, Kansas is the best, safest, and most cost effective place to build the NBAF. The Bio-Safety Level 4 lab at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is a crucial and immensely safe facet of our national security plan. And, most importantly, we must ensure the NBAF’s completion as soon as possible, so the American people and our food supply can be better protected. This study demonstrates the hard work the people at K-State and across the state of Kansas have put in to ensure the safety of our citizens and livestock. I am proud to see the NBAF cross this hurdle, and look forward to seeing the project completed in the near future.”

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