DHS' Nielsen joins top Kansas pols for NBAF tour

TOPEKA, Kan (WIBW) --- Several government officials toured what will be the country's main animal disease research facility, on Kansas State's campus.

Construction is underway for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility which will replace the Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York.,

The billion dollar facility is being constructed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen stopped in Manhattan to see the progress so far.

"I was very impressed with how complex the project is," she said.

Nielsen was joined by several other officials including U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts and Governor Jeff Coyler.

They said the facility, located next to K-State's Bio-Research Institute will help further comprehensive disease research. It will also help address threats to the country's agricultural industry and public help.

"This facility will not only help us look at today's threats, develop vaccines for it etc, but will also help us anticipate and look at those emerging threats," Nielsen explained.

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran said the money spent on the facility will benefit the state in many ways.

"The pleasing thing is that the investment is occurring in Kansas, and the opportunities that we have protect the world, protect Americans from that kind of attack is important to us," he said.

The University's president said it will also benefit its students.

"If you're interested in research and curing some of the worst diseases known to the planet it's going to take a lot of people to do that. We think the University can play a role in that," Richard Myers said.

Officials said they will continue to look forward to the country's newest bio-safety level 4 laboratory.

"It's not only a national asset, but an international asset," Nielsen added.

NBAF is nearly two thirds complete. They facility is expected to be fully operational by 2021.