The government's study of the risks of moving foot-and-mouth disease research from an island off New York to Kansas failed to adequately track the potential spread of the virus and its economic impact if accidentally released, congressional investigators said in a draft report.

The government's study of the risks of moving foot-and-mouth disease research from an island off New York to Kansas failed to adequately track the potential spread of the virus and its economic impact if accidentally released, congressional investigators said in a draft report.


The findings that the Homeland Security Department did not adequately study different risks at sites that competed for a new lab to replace an aging one at Plum Island, N.Y., may boost efforts in Congress to slow the planned construction of a $500 million National Bio and Agro-Defense lab in Manhattan, Kan. The department hoped to break ground next year.


The department's conclusions on dispersal risks were based on an inadequate model and its economic analysis was based on that flawed model, the Government Accountability Office said.


"Drawing conclusions about relocating research with highly infectious exotic animal pathogens from questionable methodology could result in regrettable consequences," the Government Accountability Office said in its draft report.


Kansas, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia and Mississippi were finalists for the lab, which will also study other deadly diseases. The Homeland Security Department also considered building a new lab at Plum Island.


The department's own experts raised concerns about the department's analyses of the spread of the virus and economic impact before choosing the Kansas site, the GAO said.