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EPA seeks environmental review before Plum Island sale

A federal review of the proposed sale of Plum Island must include a study of any impact that testing from its Animal Disease Center had on the environment, as well as consideration of endangered bird species found there, two EPA officials said.

"Any potential contamination threats to public health and the environment associated with the existing disease research facility should also be evaluated along with appropriate remediation or removal actions," Environmental Protection Agency regional administrators Judith Enck and H. Curtis Spalding wrote in a Wednesday letter provided by the EPA to The Associated Press.

The Long Island Sound lab, which conducts research on animal ailments such as swine fever, is slated to close in 2015. The federal General Services Administration is conducting an environmental impact study of the island. The government is considering selling the island because it plans to move its animal research operations to Manhattan, Kan. The EPA's letter was submitted as part of the public comment conducted ahead of the proposed sale.

In the early 1950s, research was done on the island into the potential use of pathogens for biological warfare. The lab has its own wastewater treatment plant, and the island is home to a defunct Army base. The EPA administrators also noted that Plum Island is home to a number of federally protected endangered bird species and state-protected threatened species. - AP


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