Commonwealth Journal

Local News

August 10, 2006

We Made The Cut

Kentucky-Tennessee consortium still in hunt for bio-defense lab

The Kentucky-Tennessee consortium — and Somerset, Ky. — is one step closer to landing the world’s premiere bio and agro-defense facility.

Congressman Hal Rogers announced yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security has selected a site in eastern Pulaski County as one of 14 finalists for a new $450 million national research laboratory that would make this area the world’s center for animal disease control.

The Kentucky-Tennessee group is the only multi-state consortium among the list of finalists.

“I’m elated, because this lets us know we can run with the big dogs,” said Rogers. “We believed we had a solid proposal, and a unique two-state consortium. This confirms that we can compete with the world’s best for this facility. I’m very proud.”

Ewell H. Balltrip, the executive director and CEO of the National Institute for Hometown Security, said the Pulaski County site received high marks from a Department of Homeland Security review committee composed of scientists involved in agriculture, homeland security and health and human services.

“To make it this far is a great accomplishment,” said Balltrip. “Now we just have to wait and see what comes next.”

Rogers said he expected that another cut would take the list down to two or three, probably sometime early next year.

“From there, DHS would conduct public hearings and environmental studies — it would determine how the facility would affect the community,” Rogers added.

The consortium, if successful, would position southern Kentucky and east Tennessee as a hub for homeland security scientific research. The partners include the University of Kentucky, the University of Louisville, the University of Tennessee and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

If the Pulaski County site is chosen, it is projected that the entire community landscape will change — much like Oak Ridge, Tenn., after the national lab was built there.

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