DHS Blocking Research Trips, Other Public Visits to Plum Island

Aug 8, 2018

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is blocking research trips and other public visits to Plum Island, according to the environmental advocacy group Save the Sound.

The federal government owns the island off Long Island’s North Fork -- it’s been used for an animal disease research lab for 60 years. In 2008, they decided to move the lab to Kansas and sell Plum Island.

Chris Cryder is Land Campaign Manager for Save the Sound. They’re one of seven environmental groups suing the federal government to stop the sale. He said Wednesday that the government’s decision to stop visits has led to the cancellation of environmental studies by the New York Department of Environmental Conservation and the Audubon Society of New York.

“It’s within an important bird area. It has several endangered and threatened species there,” he said, “So their bird counts have been important in monitoring these bird populations. Well, those have been cancelled.”

U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling on them to reverse the decision. All three senators are co-sponsors of a bill that would block the sale.

The Department of Homeland Security says they cancelled tours because of the current litigation, activities related to the government’s eventual departure, and the need to ensure the future sale.