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Doyle's Plum Of An Island In The News Again

By Patricia Doyle PhD

Hello Jeff - Personally, I think the US Government should hand Plum Island over to the greatest animal caretaker of all, Patty Doyle.

Well, we all know that would never happen, even though Patty Doyle would ensure no one annoys the wildlife and flora of the Plum.

Meanwhile, Plum Island research has already been partially transferred to Kansas. We also know that within 200 miles of the Kansas Plum now called the National Bio Agra Facility, we have a mystery.  Just as nonendemic diseases happened to make appearances within 70 to 200 miles of the old Plum, so too, we have a brand new never before seen virus show up less than 200 miles from the Kansas Plum.

It is uncanny how these new diseases seem to pop up around Plum Island, now both Plums. The tick, the Lone Star Tick, is also non endemic to that area of Kansas.  Mr John Seested, age 68, died of the new tick virus in June 2014.  Gosh, you don't suppose there might possibility be a Plum connection here, do ya?

In addition to the Bourbon Virus, Kansas has also had a new tick virus called Heartland Virus.  

In any event, the fight continues and an environmental group has filed notice it will sue to stop Plum Island's sale.  They, like Patty Doyle, hope to make the Long Island Plum Island a wildlife refuge for many endangered species of Long Island sound.

How they will go about decontamination of the island is a question. I remember the ABC news story in which burial pits were overflowing with barrels visible only partially buried and some with contents oozing over the tops.  How does the DHS claim this piece of real estate is suitable for housing developments?

Patty Doyle -

"The person who should be caretaker of the Long Island Plum"

Environmental Group Files Notice It Will Sue to Stop Plum Island Sale

By Gregory B. Hladky contact the reporter
January 8, 2015   

A Connecticut-based environmental group has decided to go to court in an attempt to block the federal sale of Plum Island, claiming the property in Long Island Sound is critical to the welfare of endangered and threatened species.

Save the Sound, a regional organization associated with the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, notified the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security this week that it intended to sue. The Soundkeeper, a nonprofit organization formed to protect Long Island Sound, is also a party to the legal notice.

The legal filing by Save the Sound gives the two federal agencies 60 days to correct their alleged failures to adequately protect the environment or face a lawsuit to block the sale.

"We don't think this can be resolved in 60 days," Curt Johnson, executive director of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, said Thursday. "This is just the beginning of a long process."

The General Services Administration and Homeland Security have joint responsibility over the 840-acre island, which lies just off Orient Point near the northern tip of Long Island, barely 10 miles from Connecticut's coast.

For the past 60 years, Plum Island has been the site of the federal Animal Disease Research Center. The intense security surrounding the facility has also protected the rest of the island from development and human interference, turning it into a de facto nature preserve.

Congress has ordered that the animal research facility be moved to a new site in Kansas and that the federally owned island be sold to help cover the costs of the transfer. By some estimates, commercial developers might be willing to pay tens of millions of dollars for the island to develop it as a high-end resort or condominium complex.

Save the Sound officials charge that the General Services Administration and Homeland Security failed to follow proper procedures required by the federal Endangered Species Act in approving the sale.

Patrick Scalafani, spokesman for the General Services Administration, said in an email: "GSA is in receipt of the Notice of Intent to Sue and is reviewing it. GSA remains committed to complying with the statutory requirements established by Congress with regard to the sale of Plum Island." Homeland Security officials did not respond to requests for comment.

Johnson said federal authorities decided to approve the island's sale without properly considering selling only the immediate grounds of the research lab and preserving the more than 630 acres of wild land around it.

"The island and the waters around it are a safe haven for terns, plovers, sea turtles, rare orchids and untold thousands of migrating birds each year," said Leah Lopez Schmalz, legislative and legal affairs director for Save the Sound.

Save the Sound officials claim the procedures of the two agencies were "fundamentally flawed" because federal officials failed to consider placing restrictions on what the island could be used for after its sale.

Johnson said his organization is also seeking to have the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency review the decision to sell the island.

In its notice of intent to sue, the group said Plum Island's beaches have been shown to "support three rare species, including Seabeach Knotweed, Piping Plover, and Hairy-necked Tiger Beetle." Another endangered species known to depend on the island's habitats is the roseate tern.

The environmental group also noted that the GSA's own documents state that several species of threatened or endangered marine creatures also frequent the waters around Plum Island. Those include the Atlantic hawksbill sea turtle, Atlantic (Kemp's) Ridley sea turtle, green sea turtle, leatherback sea turtle, and the loggerhead sea turtle.

Connecticut's congressional delegation has voiced support for the legal action to block the island's sale. Last July, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal signed on to a letter asking Congress to repeal the 2009 law that ordered the sale of Plum Island, or to have the property transferred to the U.S. National Parks Service or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The law passed by Congress will require the sale of Plum Island after 2019 when the animal research facility is scheduled to be moved to new high-security quarters in Manhattan, Kan.

Johnson said one interpretation of the congressional action is that it only requires the sale of the immediate research center facility. "Does 'facility' mean all of Plum Island?" asked Johnson. "We don't think so."


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