For sale: Island in Long Island Sound, 843 acres, beautiful scenery, convenient access to Long Island and New York City. Amenities include bio-secure laboratory buildings, army barracks, parade grounds, ferry landing and lighthouse. Seller: United States Government. That description could appear in federal government sale listings as Plum Island, home of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) since the 1950s, soon could become available to interested buyers according to news reports.
Last week, the Government Service Agency issued an environmental review of the property, recommending its sale. The aging Plum Island facility will be replaced by the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) currently under development in Manhattan Kansas, although the project has met with numerous delays and funding challenges.
Environmental groups and area residents object to the sale and have called for preservation of the island as a natural and historic site. The town of Southold on Long Island has jurisdiction over Plum Island, and town officials have indicated they could use zoning laws to prevent its commercial development.
In any case, the sale will not take place anytime soon. Construction on the main laboratory facility at NBAF is scheduled to begin in 2014. A timeline on the NBAF website lists completion and commencement of vaccine research as “to be determined.” In the meantime, work at the PIADC will continue, with transition to a fully operational NBAF at least five years away.