The Plum Island Animal Disease Center has been at the heart of mystery since it was created in 1954. The level of secrecy surrounding the facility has caused it be a popular source of conspiracy theories and a frequent topic in popular culture – it was referenced in “Silence of the Lambs” and was at the heart of the 1997 novel “Plum Island” by Nelson DeMille, where it was imagined as a site for the testing of germ warfare and other chemical terrors like anthrax.
But things are going to change on Plum Island. In 2005 the federal government ordered the site closed and the research center moved to a location in Kansas. This leaves a huge, 840-acre complex on a choice location on the eastern part of Long Island’s north fork available. The Associated Press reports that the General Services Administration held town hall meetings in Long Island and Connecticut to get input on what to do with the site.
One of the main reasons that the site was moved is its potential to be a terrorist target and location close to a large population based. The Government Accountability Office reported in 2007 that the facility contained pathogens for foot-and-mouth disease along with “other pathogens known to have been maintained at Plum Island could also cause illness and death in humans.”
Opinions about what to do with the site are varied. Some people, like DeMille and many environmental activities, want the government to designate it as a park. Meanwhile, real estate developers are giddy with the thought of such prime real estate that could be used for luxury homes, golf courses or other commercial development becoming available in Long Island.
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