He also had time to hear his fair share of false rumors. It’s been shown that almost every laboratory that has ever worked with foot-and-mouth disease has had an outbreak,” he says. When questionable diseases are discovered in U.S. livestock, samples from affected animals are sometimes flown by helicopter to the island, where scientists work to diagnose the disease and attempt to prevent an outbreak. In a break with procedure, the animal-care workers were not showering after delivering the animals to the lab. Despite some public opposition to the project from locals, by the early 1950s plans for a facility at Plum Island were going forward. Before the arrival of Europeans, Native Americans hunted, fished and grew corn on or near the island, which was named for the beach plums that grew along its shores. Around the time the new zoning went into effect, one well-known, deep-pocketed developer expressed interest in the island, shortly before he decided to run for president. It was the only time the beach got used. 4552 Plum Island Ct is a house in Las Vegas, NV 89147. It is easily accessible via the village of … At its Fort Detrick facilities, the Army Chemical Corps had Biosafety Level 4 capabilities (the top designation which allows for the study of highly infectious, non-curable human diseases) and studied biological warfare until the U.S. discontinued such programs in 1969 in the Nixon administration. Humans are not susceptible to the diseases studied at Plum Island, but the precautions are necessary to protect animals. Now conservationists and the Connecticut and New York lawmakers who have fought since 2008 to prevent the sale and development of the island off the eastern edge of Long Island can “finally and fully celebrate” its future preservation, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said last week. It causes a fever followed by blisters inside the mouth and feet, and though it often does not kill the animals, the slow-moving, highly contagious disease wreaks havoc on food supplies. He saw the island as a “national treasure,” a place where, almost by accident, a variety of important animal habitats had been preserved. The diseases that threaten farm animals, including classical swine fever, African swine fever and, perhaps most importantly, foot-and-mouth disease, are the focus of the research that takes place there. He thought the lab could be converted to a one-of-a-kind island golf course. The island is home to a number of endangered and rare wildlife species as well as a lighthouse built in 1869 and Fort Terry, a U.S. Army post built in 1897. It is possible but doubtful that the Army also overlooked the fact that deer regularly swim between the island and the mainland. Some workers complained to the engineering people, and the engineering people adjusted the air supply to the incinerator which is normally under the most negative pressure anywhere in the building. Protect Plum Island ... Norwich, CT 06360. Once there, those who work inside the “hot zone” — any area with dangerous diseases — go through a rigorous decontamination process involving showers, a change of clothes and a quarantine from farm animals after leaving the island that can last as long as a week. That was a fairly short conversation,” Turner says. 4571 Plum Island Ct was built in 2013 and last sold on December 26, 2018 for $377,000. Before long he had connected with Save the Sound, an environmental group based in New Haven and run by the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, and formed the Preserve Plum Island Coalition. “It’s rather a gorgeous island when you’re on it,” he says. “They argued we were not sufficiently injured and we don’t have the right to challenge the government’s actions in this case,” Reynolds says. If no federal agencies have a suitable plan for the island, ownership could be passed to the state of New York or even to the town of Southold, where officials are on board with plans to preserve its ecosystems. Foot-and-mouth disease, also called hoof-and-mouth disease, is a virus that affects cattle, sheep, goats, pigs and other animals, but not humans. Plum Island’s animal research operations are scheduled to move to Kansas and a new laboratory in 2023. Before that happened, a new role was envisioned, one that would help the country defend not from submarines, but from a potentially more dangerous and stealthy enemy: viruses. The sale price envisioned for the island was in the hundreds of millions, but now Cryder says, “We don’t have a firm appraisal of what the value is with the new zoning, but it’s thought it might be between $30 and $40 million. Exactly what, if anything, the Army Chemical Corps did on Plum Island during those two years is unknown. Soon, half the workforce would be based here. The island is the site of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, which was established by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1954. Congress has an obligation to protect this island and its natural resources.”. The nine-plus-year effort to halt sale of the island would involve local, state and federal politicians, several failed bills in Congress, tactical changes to local zoning law and even a brief cameo from current U.S. president and longtime metro area developer Donald Trump. I thank Connecticut’s environmental advocates, including Save the Sound and The Nature Conservancy for their tireless work in this effort. Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican congressman from New York, and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, have both supported legislation to stop the sale. At the same time, “there was a big study going on and they were having to kill and incinerate a lot of animals at one time and the incinerator was overheating. I think he’s got plenty of interests in the world that he doesn’t have to really focus on Plum Island.”, When asked about Trump’s interest, Blumenthal, who has sometimes been the subject of Trump’s criticism on Twitter, says, “I’ve never heard or seen Donald Trump mention Plum Island. They need to go through their normal process for the rest of the island. Nevertheless, the Army’s brief and, by all accounts, uneventful stay on the island has inspired decades’ worth of conspiracy theories and led to many shaking heads and shrugged shoulders from former workers at Plum Island who are tired of answering questions about chemical warfare work that the Plum Island Animal Disease Center was never a part of. “Conceivably, you could carry out viruses in your nose,” Gregg says. A discredited 2004 book entitled Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory fueled the conspiracy theories. Phone: (860) 886-0139 Fax: (860) 886-2974. ‘Hell yes, we are,’ says Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger. “Architectural highlights include a lighthouse listed on the National Register of Historic Places built in 1869 along with buildings and battery stations constructed as part of Fort Terry, a military fort actively used during the buildup to the Spanish-American War and during World War I and World War II.”, Gregg agrees with the rosy assessment of the island’s appearance offered in the listing. So we’re confident that any challenges to zoning down the road, we’d be successful. There was a problem saving your notification. Google it and you’ll find conspiracy theories claiming it was founded by a Nazi scientist (it wasn’t) and see the island blamed for the 1975 surge of Lyme disease in a cluster of people in Connecticut’s Lyme area, which led to the diagnosis of the disease (this is also clearly wrong, as Lyme disease was never studied on Plum Island, and the disease has been found in frozen specimens from hundreds of years ago). Emergency protocols kicked in and containment efforts were swift and efficient. We fish around it, we enjoy the wildlife that the island supports, and by failing to do an appropriate environmental analysis that we would suffer a concrete injury.”, The government will have to answer the complaint filed, and Reynolds says, “Then we have to make our case before the judge and the federal government has to make its case as to why they should be allowed to sell it at this point, and then the judge will make a decision, and that can be anywhere from one to three years down the road.”, Asked about the future of Plum Island and its potential sale, Verrico, the Homeland Security spokesperson, says, “What ultimately happens to the island, whatever happens to the real estate itself, is outside of anything I can talk about at this point because right now we don’t know. Ft. single family home built in 2013 that sold on 12/26/2018. “The court specifically held that members in our organization have a very concrete interest in making sure that there is an adequate review done before the island is sold,” Reynolds says. “It just requires a sale. “We will continue to fight to preserve this special gem from future development. You need a commitment to good stewardship and management of that island.”. Instead he was struck by the news that the Plum Island facility was soon to be phased out and the island, which is part of Suffolk County, New York, was to be sold to help offset the cost of building a new, more advanced animal disease lab in Manhattan, Kansas. The 840-acre island, which lies eight miles south of the region's shoreline, is home to the Plum Island Animal Disease Center but has been off-limits to the public for decades. Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation, Senator Richard Blumenthal and Rep. Joe Courtney, boarded a boat from The Sound School and took a tour around Plum Island Wednesday afternoon. “Some bean counters in Washington had dollar signs in their eyes,” he says. How was Saylor Poffenbarger allowed to join the UConn women early, and what does her addition mean for the Huskies? Sen. Blumenthal and Rep. Courtney do not want the island sold to private parties but would like to see it kept as it is as a park and wildlife habitat. “It would be a low-key and beautiful use for the area.”. The Department of Agriculture focused on protecting the U.S. food supply by studying animal diseases that had not yet spread to the U.S., work it continues to this day inside the island’s Biosafety Level 3 lab. IKEA asks MAGA supporters not to gather in its New Haven parking lot ahead of pro-Trump car parade by the Capitol, Daily coronavirus updates: Connecticut formally expands next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations; state reports lowest single-day positivity rate in months, UConn men’s game vs St. John’s now on Fox; Dan Hurley a ‘superhero;’ other Huskies notes, Jon Lender: DPH communications chief was fired for questioning legality of order that might have meant ‘interfering’ in murder probe, his lawyer says, Manchester creates curbside program to support downtown merchants during pandemic. At the start of its new life, Plum Island was shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Army Chemical Corps. He only lasted two years on the island. These animals had not, in theory, been exposed to the disease. The 840-acre Plum Island, just 10 miles from Connecticut shores, has for decades been home to the Animal Disease Center federal research facility. “Unfortunately we’ve seen too many occasions where deep-pocketed developers can outlast shallow-pocketed towns and ultimately push to get new zoning in place,” he says. The Department of Homeland Security says that worries over an outbreak are unfounded. In the hopes of garnering more lasting protection of the island, the Preserve Plum Island Coalition began to explore options outside of local or federal governments. Plum Island is a unique environmental resource that is home to hundreds of species of wildlife and numerous important historical sites that must be preserved for future generations to enjoy. Plum Island Animal Disease Center is designed to make “sure that we have the best quality and most affordable food, and right now our food is probably the cheapest in the world as far as cost per person,” says John Verrico, chief of media relations for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (the facility fell under the auspices of Homeland Security after 9/11). It is the only lab in the U.S. that works with active strains of the incredibly contagious and animal-ravaging foot-and-mouth disease. It saw sporadic use in both world wars, serving as an anti-submarine base in World War II. Ft. single family home built in 2013 that sold on 09/27/2019. He started reaching out to environmentalists on both sides of Long Island. So it seems fitting that Plum Island … is shaped like a question mark,” write Ruth Ann Bramson, Geoffrey K. Fleming and Amy Kasuga Folk in their history of the island, A World Unto Itself. Enfield Office. Plum Island, which is the site of a federal animal disease research laboratory, is an 840-acre island in Long Island Sound just off of Orient that provides habitat for several federally endangered and threatened species, including piping plover, while the waters surrounding the island provide fish for endangered roseate terns and are home to federally-listed marine … Did you like what you read here? Archived specimens show that Lyme disease was endemic well before the establishment of Plum Island laboratory. This article appeared in the March 2018 issue of Connecticut Magazine. The Plum Island facilities had never been zoned by the town of Southold, New York, where the island is technically located. This home was built in 2013 and last sold on 9/27/2019 for $360,000. Plum Island, off the tip of New York’s Long Island, was opened in 1954 with the stated intent of protecting American livestock from animal diseases such as … Protocol called for employees to work with unaffected animals first, then animals infected with progressively more dangerous diseases. Plum Island’s successor, the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, is under construction on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, Kansas. This includes the likelihood of a catastrophic event like a tornado or earthquake.”, With Plum Island’s future still uncertain after a nearly decade-long preservation effort, a real estate listing for the island remains on the GSA government website. Today the ferry leaves multiple times a day from Harbor One Marina in Old Saybrook. There has not been a foot-and-mouth outbreak since. Therefore we believe they should liquidate and sell the Animal Disease Center and the assets related to that. One of the many images from Robert Lorenz’s photo project showing the mostly unspoiled beauty of Plum Island. “This exquisite environmental treasure has been spared a headlong rush to sell to the highest bidder,” Blumenthal said. 4571 Plum Island Ct is a house in Las Vegas, NV 89147. Subscribe to Connecticut Magazine. Discover amazing bird watching and the natural beauty of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge. Russell never heard from the representative again, but says, “After Trump won the election there was speculation out here that he was going to try to have the island zoning overturned. “I don’t have sea legs,” he says. All the animals on the island — approximately 200 cattle, pigs and sheep — were killed. In the 1898 Spanish-American War it became Fort Terry, a military installation designed to prevent enemy ships from using Long Island Sound as a backdoor to Manhattan. The measure ending the controversial plan to sell the island to the highest bidder was among the many items stuffed into the new massive congressional omnibus spending bill, which also includes the latest COVID-19 financial relief. She notes that after the two-year stint they transferred to Fort Detrick, Maryland. Operations of Plum Island’s Animal Disease Center are being moved to a larger, more secure site in Manhattan, Kansas, that will be called the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility. The research center on Plum Island studies the world’s most dangerous animal diseases, including swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease. Gregg, the longtime Plum Island veterinarian, is among the skeptics. At the top of this infection food chain was foot-and-mouth disease. Conservation efforts have garnered bipartisan support in Connecticut and Long Island. The Conservancy and lawmakers plan to work with the incoming members of President-elect Joe Biden’s administration to conduct those reviews and determine next steps for Plum Island’s future, though the ongoing pandemic and presidential transitions leave all involved without a firm time table, said Holly Drinkuth, Conservancy director of outreach and watershed projects. (Like the flu, foot-and-mouth is difficult to vaccinate for because each vaccination only protects against specific strains.). Far more than just providing open space, Plum Island serves as an important wildlife refuge, the loss of which could be devastating, preservationists say. The battle lines had been drawn and Plum Island was entering what was arguably the strangest era of its often strange history. “Plum Island really has become an island of international importance, particularly from a wildlife perspective,” Cryder says. The center is kept under such high security that little of the island has been touched by development or visitors, inadvertently creating an oasis for the birds, seals, fish and other wildlife that frequent it. But Folk and most credible sources say the Army’s program on Plum Island never had time to get off the ground. You have permission to edit this article. “We do not believe that the statute required the sale of the rest of the island and it certainly didn’t require the sale to the highest bidder,” Reynolds says. Courtesy of the Agricultural Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Plum Island Beach is a beautiful New England barrier island offering locals and visitors an opportunity to explore, play and relax. Plum Island is a pork chop shaped island, about one mile and a half off the north fork shore at Orient Point, Long Island. 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