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New Environmental Study Ordered For Plum Island

Ed Betz

The federal government has ordered a new environmental impact study of Plum Island. The government says the study will postpone the planned sale of the island by several years.

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

Save the Sound and several other groups sued in 2016 to block the sale, arguing the first environmental impact study was insufficient. Save the Sounds’ Roger Reynolds says the new study will fix many of the problems with the first one, like considering more than 400 federally protected species on the island.

“They have to do a formal consultation with other federal agencies on what species exist there and how best to preserve them. They also failed to consider the impact it would have on the New York and Connecticut coastal zone.”

But he says it still may not consider whether part of the island could be set aside for conservation.

“Ultimately the federal government can do what they want with it, but they have to at least consider and explore alternatives such as conservation. And our contention is they did not and still have not considered that.”

Last year the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to block the sale. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer of New York co-sponsored a similar bill in the Senate.

The government says the move will push the island’s sale date to at least 2023.

Davis Dunavin loves telling stories, whether on the radio or around the campfire. He started in Missouri and ended up in Connecticut, which, he'd like to point out, is the same geographic trajectory taken by Mark Twain.