Texas sues Homeland Security over NBAF

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A group of Texas research facilities said Wednesday they plan to sue the Department of Homeland Security concerning Kansas winning the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility.

The lawsuit, filed by the Texas Biological and Agro-Defense Consortium, seeks to overturn the DHS decision and force the department to reconsider San Antonio for the biosecurity lab. It will also cause further work on the Manhattan site to be stopped.

According to an Associated Press article, the Texas group’s chairman, John Kerr, said Kansas was improperly chosen because the DHS ignored the high risk of tornadoes in the region. He said damage to the facility from a tornado, like the F-4 twister that hit Manhattan in June 2008, could cause the release of deadly airborne pathogens.

Kerr also said the site selection process involved improper political influence and was “tainted from the very beginning.”

Kansas Bioscience Authority president Tom Thorton issued a statement Wednesday that said, “The federal government chose Kansas as the best home on the merits for a new research facility to protect the American food supply and agriculture economy.

“Throughout the review, Kansas was noted for its internationally recognized animal health research expertise, state-of-the-art research infrastructure and the world’s largest concentration of animal health companies — all of which will significantly accelerate the NBAF research and commercialization mission,” he said.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement Wednesday that the NBAF site selection process was thorough, free of politics and fair.

“Kansas played by the rules and was chosen solely on its merits,” Sebelius said. “Kansas is recognized around the globe for its animal-health research expertise, state-of-the-art research and industry infrastructure, and deep agricultural heritage.”

She said she is also concerned that the legal action will only delay the NBAF mission, placing the national security and food supply at risk.

According to a press release from the Kansas Bioscience Authority, the DHS reduced its list of interested organizations to five sites in five states, including Kansas, in July 2007.

The final EIS was prepared following the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act and recommended Kansas as the preferred NBAF location in December 2008.

Thorton said the DHS should be recognized for the diligent process it undertook in ensuring the success of NBAF, and Kansas offers a solution to protecting America’s food supply, not just a site.

“Kansas remains intensely focused on accelerating efforts to protect the American food supply and agriculture economy in partnership with DHS,” he said.

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