Homeland Security to hold meeting on NBAF environmental impact

Homeland Security to hold meeting on NBAF environmental impact

Athens, Ga. – The Department of Homeland Security will seek public input on the proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility at a meeting to be held Thursday, Sept. 20 from 6 to 10 p.m. in the Mahler Auditorium at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel.

Georgia is one of five sites selected as finalists by DHS for the NBAF, a new national facility that would address the federal government’s need for research and development space to meet threats from infectious diseases of animals and livestock that can also transmit to humans. Researchers at the NBAF will focus on developing tests to detect diseases and countermeasures, such as vaccines, to prevent diseases.

The purpose of the meeting is to collect input on the scope and content of the Environmental Impact Statement that is required by the National Environmental Policy Act for major federal actions that may affect the environment and to provide a better understanding of the proposed action and the federal agencies involved.

A draft EIS that presents the purpose and need for theNBAFand analyzes the potential environmental and human health impacts of site alternatives for constructing and operating the facility will be issued in spring 2008 for public comment and a final EIS will be issued in fall 2008.

In addition to Georgia, alternative sites include Manhattan, Kan.; Flora, Miss., Butner, N.C.; and San Antonio, Texas. A “no action alternative” – maintaining current research capability at Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York – also will be considered.

The Athens site under consideration is University of Georgia-owned property on South Milledge Avenue near Whitehall Road. The University of Georgia is the lead of the Georgia Consortium for Health and Agro Security, the statewide collaboration working to bring NBAF to Georgia.

DHS has identified a preliminary list of issues to be addressed in the EIS. It includes land-use, air quality, acoustic environment, geology and soil characteristics, water resources, human health and safety, socioeconomic effects, public infrastructure, waste management, compliance with all applicable laws and regulations, and more.

The public can register to provide oral comments beginning at 6 p.m. Exhibits also will be available. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. with a presentation by officials from DHS. Formal comments will be heard from 8 to 10 p.m.

Meeting materials, more information on how to comment and a description of the EIS process are available from the DHS website, http://www.dhs.gov/xres/labs/editorial_0803.shtm.

DHS welcomes all comments, both oral and written, during the scoping period, July 31 – September 28, 2007.All comments submitted during this period will be given equal consideration in defining the scope of the EIS.