The House Homeland Security Committee unanimously passed a bill Thursday to prevent the sale of Plum Island while possible future uses are studied.
Bill sponsor Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) said he expects the bill to come the House floor this year for a vote.
The bill, originally introduced last year but amended this week, would reverse a 2008 federal law that mandates the sale of the federally owned island to the highest bidder. The Government Accountability Office, in consultation with island owner Department of Homeland Security, would have to formulate a comprehensive plan for the future use of the island, including turning it into a park or handing it to state or local governments or nonprofits.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), a member of the Homeland Security Committee, said it was a “good bill” that had support from the Long Island and Connecticut delegation.
Zeldin, in a statement, said “I am proud to have secured the passage of this bill out of committee and to the House floor for a vote.”
Plum Island has been home to an animal disease testing laboratory, which is moving to Kansas.
Congress in 2008 voted to close the existing Plum Island Animal Disease Center and move it to a new facility in Kansas. The government is selling the 840-acre, pork chop-shaped island off the tip of the North Fork to the highest bidder to pay for the new facility.
Long Island and Connecticut elected officials and environmental groups have rallied to preserve the island, saying that the 90 percent of undeveloped land should be preserved because it has become a sanctuary for birds, sea turtles and seals.
Officials said the laboratory portion should be sold or given to a company or university for research.
The bill would also require the government to study cleanup costs for the island.