The long-awaited groundbreaking occurred last week in Manhattan for the first phase of the $1.2 billion National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, which will be a big win for the state and national security. But a commentary in the San Antonio Express-News warned about the "folly of building a federal research lab handling the most dangerous pathogens on Earth in the heart of Tornado Alley," calling the choice of Manhattan a case of "politics trumping safety." John Kerr, who had chaired the effort to try to lure the lab to San Antonio, concluded: "Proponents of the Kansas site blandly insist that the NBAF has been redesigned to withstand a tornado. The images of destruction from Oklahoma suggest that unless the entire 500,000-square-foot facility is built underground, at a cost running into the billions, it could not withstand even an EF-3 tornado. Building it in Kansas is the equivalent of playing Russian roulette with Mother Nature." When such concerns were raised in 2009, Kansans noted the Texas county vying for NBAF historically registered more tornadoes than Kansas' Riley County and that Texas led the nation in tornadoes and came in second for hurricanes.
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