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Big renovations at NY biolab

$30 million expansion and upgrade fuels speculation about how long aging Plum Island facility will stay open

John Dudley Miller
The Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York will receive a $30 million expansion and upgrade, despite the fact that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has said it might shut the lab down when a new facility goes into operation in 2013.Planned improvements to the 55-year-old facility will include a new 8,000 square feet animal wing, a conversion of 2,500 existing square feet to new BSL-3 space, and a new firehouse/motor pool building. Upgrades will modernize the water system, the electrical system, the cold-water chillers, and the wastewater decontamination system. In December 2002 the Center lost power for three hours when its backup generators failed.DHS spokesman Chris Kelly told The Scientist that DHS requested the Plum Island improvements in 2003, just after it assumed control of the facility, formerly overseen by the Department of Agriculture. The decision to spend this money ?is completely separate? from the Department?s...

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