Environmental impact study ordered for Plum Island

A New York island where scientists have for years conducted extensive testing of diseases - including the bioterror threat anthrax - on animals may be sold by the federal government after the facility is moved to Kansas, but not before an environmental impact study is performed.

According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, the Environmental Protection Agency states that "Any potential contamination threats to public health and the environment associated with the existing disease research facility should also be evaluated along with appropriate remediation or removal actions."

Plum Island, according to The AP, is home to a laboratory where about 300 scientists and staff have done research on public health hazards such as foot-and-mouth disease and anthrax.

The AP reports that the General Services Administration is studying the environmental impact of Plum Island in advance of a possible sale. The GSA's study should be completed by the beginning of fall, according to The AP.

Preservationists from groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the Long Island-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment told The Associated Press that the island's ecology needs to be protected from improper development.

"This crown jewel of Long Island Sound supports such a great diversity of birds and other wildlife, and deserves the utmost protection possible," Sean Mahar, director of government relations for Audubon New York, told the Associated Press.