On Monday, Congressman Tim Bishop, of Southampton, led members of Congress in sending a letter to members of the House and Senate appropriations committees protesting the sale of Plum Island
Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut led the petition in the Senate.
Current federal law mandates selling the island to offset the cost of building the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas.
“The sale of Plum Island would be a critical mistake both from a research and an ecological standpoint,” Bishop said in a statement released by his office. “If this island is allowed to be developed by the highest bidder, the species that currently exist on the island, including multiple endangered species, could be irreparably harmed.”
Plum Island opened in 1954 after Canada suffered an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and was, at the time, the only facility in the United States equipped to study foreign animal diseases.
Research operations being conducted at the island were transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in 2002.
“Plum Island is a priceless natural habitat that must be preserved and protected from development. Congress must repeal its short-sighted decision to sell this environmental treasure to the highest bidder,” Blumenthal added. “We have an opportunity and responsibility now to ensure that generations to come can enjoy the environmental and recreational benefits of this unique and priceless island.”
In the letter Bishop and Blumenthal, along with the 11 other members of Congress and Senate that signed the petition, recommended transferring ownership of Plum Island to either the National Parks Service or the Fish and Wildlife Service in order to protect the numerous endangered and threatened species living on the island.
The lawmakers requested that the appropriations committees include language in future appropriations bills that would repeal the sale of Plum Island.