Where Was Plum Island’s Security?

anthraxresearcher.jpgWhy is no one else disturbed about the recent Plum Island incident? The boater that washed ashore on Plum Island last week may have saved his own ass while also showing how lax security is on a most mysterious and hazardous island!

I hear your question. Why should I care about Plum Island?

Plum Island is located off the North Fork of Long Island. It’s less than 10 miles from Connecticut. It used to be run by the Department of Agriculture. It’s a scary place.

We’re proud of our role as America’s first line of defense against foreign animal diseases.

We’re equally proud of our safety record. Not once in our nearly 50 years of operation has an animal pathogen escaped from the island.

The island houses labs performing dangerous research often with live diseased animals! They publish papers with titles like, “Swine Genomics and Biodefense Countermeasures Discovery ” Some tests are performed on genetically engineered cloned swine–so called “knockout pigs.”

No wonder Plum Island needs “state-of-the-art biosafety practices and procedures to prevent a disease organism from escaping into the environment.”

In case you weren’t already convinced of this place’s importance, “Land, buildings and other facilities of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center were transferred to the Department of Homeland Security in June 2003.” You know them–the shoe people from the airport.

Basically you would expect this place to be protected in the manner of a James Bond villain’s lair! High tech security. Constant diligence. Massive law enforcement presence. Actually that’s close to what Plum Island claims.

Restricted access to authorized employees and approved visitors. Trained security professionals and surveillance systems guard the island, laboratory and storage areas 24/7. All employees have pass security clearances.

Last week an unlucky boater drifted across the Sound, landed on Plum Island and walked a few miles across it before being found… but only because he’d stumbled upon the security facility and waited!

New Haven Register: “Security personnel had been away from the office to look for Young and found him upon their return, according to John Olsen, Coast Guard operations controller.”

Just a guess, but had this been a real emergency I don’t think he would have walked to the office and waited, right?

I don’t know everything on Plum Island and probably don’t want to. Even with the little I know this undetected incursion scares the crap out of me.

Has DHS come to the same conclusion I have? God, I hope so.

6 Responses to “Where Was Plum Island’s Security?”

  1. McD says:

    Have you read this book about Plum Island?

    Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Germ Laboratory (Michael C. Carroll)

    I just finished reading it last week. It doesn’t paint a very good picture of Plum Island.

  2. ro do says:

    This isn’t the first time security has been breached on PI. Security looks good on paper but it does not work at Plum Island. I hear they have a security boat out there – yeah lets keep it tied up. Maybe it is a good idea to rebuild this type of center in Kansas or better yet Alaska!

  3. Lou says:

    DHS has been a disaster since it was thrown together post-9/11. It needs a top to bottom independent review. It is in as sorry a shape as some CT State Agencies (DMV and DCF to name two).

    We can always hope that things will get better – but I’m not counting on it.

  4. Jim says:

    Speaking of security and DHS…

    My family (me, wife, two kids, dad and mom) left Bradley early Friday morning for a trip to Disney.

    At the gate, there were 6 DHS screeners standing in a group and choosing people for random pat downs.

    A female screenwe selected my 62 year old mother for a pat down. I made a face but tried to conceal it. Not quickly enough as I was seen by another screener and chosen for a pat down.

    I know its all part of “security” and we all want to be safe but its kind of hard not to wonder, “Are you kidding me?”

  5. kamododragoon says:

    What goes on in Plum Island and the types of Security they have, I can not say, but from what My friends who do tell me and they work for the US Coast Guard in CT. Is that they have good security and it it’s well guarded much like a federal prison camp.

  6. Geoff Fox says:

    “[W]ell guarded much like a federal prison camp.”

    That’s what I’d hoped for, but obviously not. This guy got on, walked around, and went to a sensitive area, undetected.

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