The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is issuing a final Environmental Assessment (EA) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for Closure Activities at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center on Plum Island, NY. DHS currently operates a facility known as the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) on Plum Island, New York. The PIADC mission is to protect U.S. livestock from accidental or intentional introduction of foreign animal diseases that seriously threaten United States livestock industries, food security and economy. Plum Island is an 840-acre island located approximately 1.5 miles off Orient Point and Long Island, New York. Based on the DHS and U.S. Department of Agriculture bio- and agro-defense mission requirements and facility limitations at Plum Island, the need was identified to enhance the U.S. government’s current animal agricultural research capabilities through construction of the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF) in Manhattan, Kansas. NBAF will replace the PIADC facility in New York and be operated by the USDA. NBAF will enhance the current research capabilities in the animal agricultural field. Upon the transfer of the mission to NBAF, DHS will no longer have any mission need for PIADC or the associated facilities on Plum Island. Plum Island and all PIADC Government assets, including real property, personal property, and transportation assets, will be conveyed as one entity by the General Services Administration as directed by the Federal Real Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949.
The assessment of environmental impacts is an important and integral part of DHS’s decision-making process. The EA for this project was prepared according to NEPA, the Council on Environmental Quality’s Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500-1508), DHS Management Directive 023-01, rev. 01 Implementation of the NEPA and associated Instruction 023-01-001-01, Rev. 01, and other pertinent environmental statutes, regulations, executive orders, and compliance requirements. The draft EA was made available for public comment for a period of 30-day from September 8, 2022, to October 9, 2022. DHS received comments on the Draft EA from US Fish and Wildlife Service, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Nature Conservancy, and Save the Sound. Comments have been addressed and incorporated into the Final EA as appropriate. A complete list of comments received, and DHS responses, is included in Appendix C of the EA. Additionally, DHS has identified tasks that must be completed to facilitate the Proposed Action. These tasks include five primary components: 1) facilities decontamination and sampling efficacy validation, 2) waste management delineation and remediation activities; 3) subsurface oil delineation and remediation activities; 4) asset preservation and preparation for long-term storage (i.e., asset lay-up); and 5) asset disposition and permit transfer. These actions along with identified best management practices (BMPs) in the final EA would be applied, as applicable, for project-specific activities to ensure that all practical means to minimize or avoid the potential for adverse impacts to the human and natural environment.
The analyses described in the EA demonstrate that the Proposed Action would result in no significant impact on the environment. As a result, no additional analysis or documentation (i.e., EIS) is required under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA); 42 United States Code [USC] §§ 4321 et seq.); the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) Regulations Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (40 Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] Parts 1500-1508); and DHS Management Directive 023-01, rev. 01 Implementation of the NEPA.