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Ceremony for NBAF is Tuesday

By Bryan Richardson

A groundbreaking ceremony for the central utilities plant at the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Faculty (NBAF) will take place at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Gov. Sam Brownback will attend the event, as will Sen. Pat Roberts, Sen. Jerry Moran, Rep. Tim Huelskamp, Rep. Lynn Jenkins, K-State President Kirk Schulz, state legislators, and Jamie Johnson, director of national labs for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The biosafety level 4 facility is slated to replace Plum Island Animal Disease Center as the nation’s lead facility for large animal research.

The research includes infectious diseases that affect these animals such as foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). It would be the first time FMD research would occur on the mainland.

The central utilities plant represents the first phase of the estimated $1.15 billion NBAF project. This portion of the project costs $80 million and is funded by the recently released $40 million from the federal government and $40 million from a state match.

DHS awarded the contract for construction of the facility’s central utilities plant in February. That construction is expected to be completed in two and a half years.

The rest of the funding still needs to be secured. There are proposals in place that federal and state officials have indicated would be the last of the appropriations needed for the facility.

President Barack Obama has proposed $714 million for NBAF in his fiscal year 2014 budget. At the time of Obama’s announcement in April, Sen. Roberts anticipated that construction would take place from 2014 to 2020 if the funding is approved.

Congress has a Sept. 30 deadline to pass a budget. If a budget isn’t passed, which has been the case since Congress passed the FY10 budget, funding could still come from an appropriations bill.

The first step toward federal funding being allocated seems to be Kansas approving an additional $202 million in bonding authority. The state previously approved $105 million in bonds for the project.

The state legislature appears likely to approve the $202 million. The Senate passed a bill for the measure by a 32-8 vote May 15. The House, which has NBAF funds included in its version of the budget, still hasn’t taken an official vote on the funds.

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