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Feds make move toward sale of Plum Island

Plum Island is seen in an aerial photo

Plum Island is seen in an aerial photo on May 20, 2010. Credit: Doug Kuntz

The federal government issued its record of decision for the sale of Plum Island Thursday, finalizing the environmental review on what has been home to the nation's livestock animal disease testing laboratory, an official said.

The decision is expected to green-light the sale of the 840-acre island, set 1 1/2 miles off the tip of the North Fork.

The site, which federal officials expect to auction online, would be sold to the highest bidder and the federal lab shuttered once a new, higher security lab is completed in Kansas, about 2019.

The General Services Administration and Department of Homeland Security jointly issued Thursday's decision. But other agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Fish and Wildlife, have raised concerns that the final environmental statement did not adequately address contamination and cleanup and endangered species on the island.

GSA spokesman Patrick Sclafani said the agency leadership met with EPA officials last week in New York City. "Both agencies renewed their commitment to work together," he said during a tour Wednesday of the island with members of the news media.

He said the record of decision will include separate resources available from the EPA to assist future owners and local officials with environmental cleanup.

EPA spokesman John Martin said earlier this week the agency would not comment until it had seen the final record of decision.

The decision is expected to be printed in the Federal Register next week.

A letter earlier this month from EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck raised substantive concerns about the adequacy of the environmental review. It also asked that information about the agency's clean construction, water pollution prevention and environmentally friendly development programs be included as an attachment when the record of decision was published.

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