[Federal Register Volume 72, Number 146 (Tuesday, July 31, 2007)]
[Notices]
[Pages 41764-41765]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: E7-14692]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY


Science and Technology Directorate; Notice of Intent To Prepare 
an Environmental Impact Statement

AGENCY: Science and Technology Directorate (Office of National 
Laboratories within the Office of Research), DHS.

ACTION: Notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement 
for the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF).

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SUMMARY: DHS announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact 
Statement (EIS) to evaluate reasonable siting alternatives for the 
construction and operation of the proposed NBAF. DHS invites 
individuals, organizations, and agencies to present oral or written 
comments concerning the scope of the EIS, including the environmental 
issues and alternatives that the EIS should address.

DATES: The public scoping period starts with the publication of this 
Notice in the Federal Register and will continue until September 27, 
2007. DHS will consider all comments received, postmarked, or emailed 
by that date in defining the scope of the EIS. DHS also intends to hold 
public meetings during this comment period to provide the public with 
added opportunities to present comments, ask questions, and discuss 
concerns regarding the EIS with DHS officials.
    All public meetings are listed in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
section.
    DHS will publish additional notices regarding the dates, times, and 
locations of the public meetings in local newspapers in advance of the 
scheduled meetings. Any necessary changes will be announced in the 
local media and on the NBAF Web site (http://www.dhs.gov/nbaf).

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by mail, online, fax, or voice 
mail:
    U.S. Mail: Department of Homeland Security; Science and Technology 
Directorate; James V. Johnson; Mail Stop 2100; 245 Murray Lane 
SW., Building 410; Washington, DC 20528; Online: http://www.dhs.gov/
nbaf (click on Public Involvement); Toll-free fax: 1-866-508-NBAF 
(6223); or Toll-free voice mail: 1-866-501-NBAF (6223).
    Updates and other information will be posted to the NBAF EIS Web 
page at: http://www.dhs.gov/nbaf.
    In addition to providing comments at the public meetings, all 
interested parties are invited to record their comments, ask questions 
concerning the EIS, or request to be placed on the EIS mailing or 
document distribution list by leaving a message on the EIS Hotline at 
(toll free) 1-866-501-NBAF (6223). The Hotline will have instructions 
on how to record comments and requests. Additional information on 
public participation opportunities is included in the SUPPLEMENTARY 
INFORMATION section.
    All interested persons and organizations including minority, low 
income, disadvantaged, and Native American groups are urged to 
participate in this environmental impact review process. Assistance 
will be provided upon request to anyone with special needs to 
facilitate their participation in the process.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Consultations between DHS and the United 
States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on a coordinated biodefense 
strategy called for in Homeland Security Presidential Directives 9 and 
10 have revealed a gap that must be filled by an integrated research, 
development, test and evaluation (RDT&E) infrastructure for combating 
bio and agro terrorism threats. DHS S&T is responsible for filling this 
gap in a safe, secure, and environmentally sound manner. The proposed 
NBAF is envisioned to provide the nation with the first integrated 
agricultural, zoonotic disease, and public health RDT&E facility with 
the capability to address threats from human pathogens, high 
consequence zoonotic disease agents, and foreign animal diseases.
    DHS intends to select a single site for the construction of the 
NBAF. A competitive selection process to identify and evaluate 
potential candidate sites, other than Plum Island, for the NBAF was 
recently completed. This process was initiated by issuance of a notice 
of request for Expressions of Interest (EOI), on January 19, 2006 (71 
Federal Register 3107-3109). DHS has determined that the following 
``Site Alternatives'' are reasonable alternative sites for the 
construction of the NBAF:
    Manhattan Campus Site Manhattan, Kansas: This alternative would 
locate the NBAF within what is identified as the Kansas City Health 
Corridor on the Kansas State University Campus.
    South Milledge Avenue Site, Athens, Georgia: This alternative would 
locate the NBAF on the campus of the University of Georgia Whitehall 
Farm.
    Texas Research Park Site, San Antonio, Texas: This alternative 
would locate the NBAF on the land of the Texas Research Park in San 
Antonio Texas.
    Umstead Research Farm Site, Butner, North Carolina: This 
alternative would

[[Page 41765]]

locate the NBAF on the Umstead Research Farm site in Butner, North 
Carolina.
    Flora Industrial Park Site, Flora, Mississippi: This alternative 
would locate the NBAF in Flora Industrial Park in Flora, Mississippi.
    Although not included in the competitive selection process outlined 
above, the DHS-owned Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) will 
also be considered as a reasonable alternative.
    Plum Island Site, Plum Island Animal Disease Center, Plum Island, 
New York: This alternative would locate the new NBAF on the same 
federally owned property as the existing PIADC.
    Additionally, a No Action alternative will also be evaluated. Under 
the No Action Alternative, the NBAF would not be built and DHS would 
continue to use PIADC with necessary investments in facility upgrades, 
replacements, and repairs so that it could continue to operate at its 
current capability.
    Additional alternatives may be identified during the public scoping 
process. DHS invites comments and suggestions on alternatives that 
should be considered. A preferred location for the construction of the 
NBAF has not been identified at this time.
    DATES: The Public Meeting dates are:
    1. Wednesday, August 22, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Old Saybrook, 
CT Saybrook Point Inn, Two Bridge Street, Old Saybrook, CT 06475.
    2. Thursday, August 23, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Greenport, NY, 
Southold Town Hall, 53095 Main Road (Route 25), Greenport, NY 11971.
    3. Tuesday, August 28, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Manhattan, KS, 
Kansas State University, K-State Student Union, Manhattan, KS 66505.
    4. Thursday, August 30, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Flora, MS, 
First Baptist Church, Christian Life Center, 121 Center Street, Flora, 
MS 39071.
    5. Thursday, September 6, 2007, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
Washington, DC, Grand Hyatt Washington, 1000 H Street NW, Washington, 
DC 20001.
    6. Tuesday, September 11, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. San Antonio, 
TX, Marriott Plaza San Antonio, 555 South Alamo Street, San Antonio, TX 
78205.
    7. Tuesday, September 18, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Creedmoor, 
NC, South Granville High School, 701 North Crescent Drive, Creedmoor, 
NC 27522.
    8. Thursday, September 20, 2007, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Athens, GA, 
The University of Georgia, Center for Continuing Education, 1197 South 
Lumpkin Street, Athens, GA 30602.
    Onsite registration and sign-up to present oral comments will be 
available at 6 p.m. for all meetings (12:30 p.m. for the Washington, DC 
meeting).
    Preliminary Identification of Environmental Issues: The following 
issues have been tentatively identified for analysis in the EIS. DHS 
invites suggestions for the addition or deletion of items on this list:
     Land-use plans, policies, and controls;
     Visual resources;
     Air quality;
     Acoustic (noise) environment;
     Geology and soil characteristics;
     Water resources, including surface and groundwater, 
floodplains and wetlands, and water use and quality;
     Plants and animals, and their habitats, including 
Federally-listed threatened or endangered species and their critical 
habitats, wetlands and floodplains;
     Cultural resources, including historic and prehistoric 
resources and traditional cultural properties encompassing Native 
American or culturally important sites;
     Human health and safety (involving both members of the 
public and laboratory workers);
     Socioeconomic effects that may be related to the new 
construction and facility operations;
     Public infrastructure, including utilities and local 
transportation;
     Waste management practices and activities including the 
handling, collection, treatment, and disposal of research wastes; and
     Compliance with all applicable federal, tribal, state, and 
local statutes and regulations and with international agreements, and 
required environmental permits, consultations and notifications.
    The list of issues discussed above for consideration in the NBAF 
EIS is preliminary and is intended to facilitate public comment. It is 
not intended to be all-inclusive, nor does it imply any 
predetermination or relative importance of potential impacts. During 
the process of preparing the EIS, DHS will evaluate the potential 
environmental and human health impacts of the alternatives, together 
with engineering and socioeconomic considerations. The NBAF EIS will 
present the results of this environmental impact evaluation process.
    DHS anticipates that certain classified or otherwise protected 
information will be consulted in the preparation of this EIS and used 
by decision-makers to decide where and how to relocate the NBAF. To the 
extent allowable, the EIS will summarize and present this information 
in a publicly releasable form.
    EIS Preparation and Public Participation Process: The process for 
preparing the NBAF EIS begins with the publication of this Notice of 
Intent in the Federal Register. After the close of the public scoping 
period, DHS will begin the environmental impact evaluation process. DHS 
expects to issue a draft NBAF EIS for public review in the spring of 
2008. Public comments on the draft will be accepted during a comment 
period of at least 60 days following its publication. DHS will consider 
the public comments received on the draft EIS, perform further 
environmental impact evaluation if needed, and expects to publish a 
final NBAF EIS during fall 2008. No sooner than 30 days after 
publication of the Notice of Availability of the final NBAF EIS in the 
Federal Register, DHS will issue its Record of Decision and publish it 
in the Federal Register. In addition to the Federal Register, the 
Notices of Availability for the draft EIS, final EIS, and EIS Record of 
Decision will be provided through direct mail and other media.

    Authority: 42 U.S.C. 4321-4347 (National Environmental Policy 
Act).

    Dated: July 30, 2007.
Jay M. Cohen,
Under Secretary, Science & Technology.
 [FR Doc. E7-14692 Filed 7-30-07; 8:45 am]
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