by Matt Saldaña
The Department of Homeland Security has recommended Manhattan, Kansas to be the future site of the National Bio and Agro- Defense Facility, according to a final Economic Impact Study dated "December 2008" that was obtained and published Wednesday--two days ahead of its scheduled public release--in the Manhattan (Kan.) Mercury.
Meanwhile, AP also reported on the decision today, citing anonymous "congressional lawmakers and staff."
The Mercury story, which included confirmation from the press secretary for Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), noted that the recommendation is far from binding:
The choice does not become final until 30 days following publication of the final environmental impact study Friday. And even then, the selection theoretically could face legal challenges, either from sites that were not selected or from groups who have gone on record as opposing construction of the lab anywhere.
Among the sites not recommended: North Carolina's own Umstead Research Farm Site in Butner, N.C. The Indy has reported extensively on local opposition to the federal disease research lab, which led to a loss of public "education" funding for a P.R. campaign (initially reported on here), and a rejection by many local government officials.
In the final Economic Impact Study, DHS cited "community acceptance" as one reason for picking Manhattan.
"This really puts us on the map," Lyle Butler, president of the Manhattan Area Chamber of Commerce, told the Mercury.
If being "on the map" means being potentially exposed to some of the world's most contagious and dangerous diseases, including several that are transmissible from animals to humans, then, for now, Butner is safely off of it.