Sites in 5 states are finalists for germ lab |

Sites in 5 states are finalists for germ lab

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The federal government has selected sites in five states as finalists for a $450 million national lab where killer germs like anthrax, avian flu and foot-and-mouth disease will be studied, members of Congress said Wednesday.Sites in Texas, Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi and North Carolina were chosen as possible hosts for the 520,000-square-foot National Bio- and Agro-Defense Lab, said senators from Texas and Kansas and Texas House members.The Department of Homeland Security declined comment. It planned an official announcement later Wednesday.The sites were chosen by a team from the Homeland Security, along with the departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services.The facility will replace an aging, smaller lab at Plum Island, N.Y., where security lapses after the 2001 terrorist attacks drew scrutiny from Congress and government investigators. It would bring at least 300 lab-related jobs, and more in construction, officials have said.Congress provided money for the $47 million design and architecture, but no money has been appropriated for construction or operations yet.The winner should be announced next year, with the lab operating by 2014.The lab will have the highest-level security rating, since it would be equipped to handle the most lethal, incurable disease agents.Sites that made the final cut are in San Antonio; Athens, Ga.; Manhattan, Kan.; Madison County, Miss., and Durham and Granville counties, N.C.Texas Republican Sens. Kay Bailey Hutchison and John Cornyn as well as Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., confirmed the sites selected. Reps. Ciro Rodriguez, D-Texas and Lamar Smith, R-Texas, also provided information.Sites that missed the cut were in California, Oklahoma, Maryland, Missouri, Wisconsin and Kentucky, which was working with Tennessee.The Plum Island lab to be replaced conducts research on foot-and-mouth disease and other germs to protect agriculture and livestock from foreign diseases. The new lab will do that and research on other diseases and contagions, possibly including anthrax, smallpox and Marburg and Lassa, rare hemorrhagic fevers that attack the vascular system.—On the Net:Department of Homeland Security:

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