Connecticut, New York lawmakers try to stop sale of Plum Island

Washington – Connecticut and New York lawmakers are trying to persuade colleagues on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees to repeal legislative language that requires the sale of Plum Island, which environmentalists want to keep as a largely undeveloped natural habitat.

Plum Island is a spit of land, three miles long, in the Long Island Sound that for years housed some of the most lethal bacteria known to man, organisms responsible for swine flu, food-and-mouth disease and other livestock ailments.

Rumors have it the Plum Island Animal Disease Center is responsible for the spread of Lyme disease – named for a nearby Connecticut town – rumors so persistent that the Department of Homeland Security refutes it on its website.

Congress mandated the sale of Plum Island once the federal government shuts the lab on the island in 2019 and moves operations to a new lab capable of studying even deadlier biological agents. It is under construction in Manhattan, Kan.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, have planned an event at the Sound School in New Haven Wednesday to release a letter to congressional appropriators jointly signed by members of New York and Connecticut congressional delegations “seeking a repeal of the shortsighted language” that forces a sale.

Representatives from several environmental groups, including Audubon Connecticut and the Nature Conservancy, will also participate in the event.

Last year, Blumenthal, Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and Reps. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District and Tim Bishop, D-N.Y., introduced legislation that would halt the sale. But those bills have not moved in Congress.

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