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NBAF site-specific risk assessment and safety

On Friday, March 2, the Department of Homeland released its updated site-specific risk assessment for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, which is being built in Manhattan, Kan.

The document with the department's updated analysis can be downloaded at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/st/nbaf_updated_ssra_executive_summary.pdf.

An accompanying one-page fact sheet for the updated risk assessment can be downloaded at http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/st/nbaf_updated_ssra_fact_sheet.pdf.

Updates and talking points


  • The Kansas City Star published a story about the government's updated risk assessment for NBAF on March 2. The story was picked up by the Associated Press and included Ron Trewyn, K-State's vice president of research. 

“The 70 percent ‘fear factor’ figure from 2010 has been revised,” said Ron Trewyn, vice president of research at Kansas State University ... 


"This study by the Department of Homeland Security confirms, yet again, what the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, Congress and the Kansas Delegation have been saying for years. Manhattan, Kansas is the best, safest, and most cost effective place to build the NBAF. The Bio-Safety Level 4 lab at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility is a crucial and immensely safe facet of our national security plan. And, most importantly, we must ensure the NBAF’s completion as soon as possible, so the American people and our food supply can be better protected. This study demonstrates the hard work the people at K-State and across the state of Kansas have put in to ensure the safety of our citizens and livestock. I am proud to see the NBAF cross this hurdle, and look forward to seeing the project completed in the near future." –Rep. Lynn Jenkins 

"The safety of NBAF’s research is a top priority and this updated report confirms that the NBAF design is sound. DHS included recommendations for reducing risk, used the latest biocontainment technology, and brought in top experts to ensure NBAF will be the safest and most modern research facility in the world. Without NBAF, our country remains at risk from foreign animal disease outbreaks. It is critical that construction of NBAF begins immediately to safeguard against these threats and the devastation they would cause." –Sen. Jerry Moran

"I am pleased by the updated assessment’s confirmation of what we always knew, Manhattan is the safest and best place for this facility to be built. The deminished risk of outbreak should help allay concerns from any opposition, in the public or Congress. Now that this study has been delivered to Congress, I eagerly await DHS to begin construction on the Central Utilities Plant. This report fills the Congressional requirements to release the funds and I expect DHS to do so." –Sen. Pat Roberts


  • What is new in the updated assessment?

The Homeland Security's updated risk assessment for NBAF reduces the risk of an accidental release of dangerous pathogens from 70 percent to less than 0.11 percent. The current 0.11 percent figure accounts for catastrophic events such as tornadoes and earthquakes. The updated assessment states that the percentage of an accidental release is "less than 0.008 percent when catastrophic events are excluded."

  • Why was the Department of Homeland Security's 2010 NBAF site-specific risk assessment re-evaluated?  

According to Homeland Security's website:

As part of its on-going risk management process and  to comply with recent Congressional requirements, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the 2010 NBAF Site-Specific Risk Assessment (SSRA) by incorporating recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and the most recent design plans. The Updated SSRA satisfies the Congressional requirements for demonstrating how calculated risks have been significantly reduced by incorporating mitigation measures into the risk assessment and updating the analysis to allow for a cumulative risk calculation. http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/st/nbaf_updated_ssra_fact_sheet.pdf