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In 2005, the Department of Homeland Security announced plans to replace the old Plum Island Animal Disease Center off Long Island with a facility on the U.S. mainland to study Foot and Mouth Disease and other dangerous pathogens. Kansas won the job in 2008, with a site on the campus of Kansas State University in Manhattan.But today, more than three years later, the proposed $1.14 billion National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility faces funding obstacles, safety questions, rising costs and political fallout. For Kansas and the Midwest, the stakes couldn’t be higher.Here you’ll find coverage and updates from Harvest Public Media, KCUR and Kansas Public Media.

Sen. Roberts: NBAF Construction Set To Begin

Department of Homeland Security

Groundbreaking for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility will take place next Tuesday in Manhattan, Kansas according to a release from Senator Robert's office.

Cost sharing for this phase of the animal disease lab will be about equal - 50/50- for the independent power plant required on the 48 acre site at Kansas State University. Both Kansas and the federal government are putting in roughly $40 million.

For supporters of NBAF, funding the project has been nothing short of a nightmare as both Washington and Topeka are experiencing budget crusades by lawmakers with differing ideas about the role of government.

Kansas approved 105 million dollars in bonds before the project was awarded to the state in 2009 as part of an incentive package. And this week, it approved another $202 million in bonds requested by Governor Brownback.

But in this latest round of negotiations for state funding , legislators insisted on a new provision.

It seeks to limit Kansas' financial exposure, saying the state will withhold funding if there are cost overruns on the project.

Part of the controversy over the NBAF is that the proposed facility has escalated from $450 million  to over $1.2 billion today.

Kansas donated the land, and has contributed more than $145 million in funding for NBAF.

The $1.2 billion dollar facility has been stalled over funding and security issues, but the recent release of $40 million in federal funds, and a request for $714 million in the President's FY2014 budget have breathed new life into the project. The state of Kansas has contributed more than $145 million in funding and donated land for the NBAF.

The Department of Homeland Security will operate the facility. It will have one lab built to the highest bio-containment restrictions, known as a BSL4 lab, where it will research pathogens deadly to both humans and animals.

The NBAF also will be the only lab in the United States capable of studying Foot and Mouth Disease, an extremely contagious virus that affects cloven, or split, hooved  animals. 

Many ranchers oppose the NBAF in Manhattan because a release of  the FMD virus would devastate both the domestic and export livestock trade.

I partner with communities to uncover the ignored or misrepresented stories by listening and letting communities help identify and shape a narrative. My work brings new voices, sounds, and an authentic sense of place to our coverage of the Kansas City region. My goal is to tell stories on the radio, online, on social media and through face to face conversations that enhance civic dialogue and provide solutions. Email me at lauraz@kcur.org and follow me on Twitter @laurazig.
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