All research and development activities at the Plum Island Animal Disease Center will be suspended in the event of a government shutdown, according to a spokesperson from the Department of Homeland Security.
The department spokesperson said in a statement on Friday afternoon that the facility on Plum Island — built in 1954 to study and create vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease, a very contagious virus among livestock but relatively harmless to humans — is preparing to scale back just like every other federally run agency in the country if the government has to shut down.
"Agency operational plans are still being finalized, but our current understanding is that all R&D activities would be suspended in the event of a government shutdown, including at Plum Island Animal Disease Center," said the statement.
A small number of employees would be exempt from the scale-back in order to provide security and maintenance at the facility, which has been run by the Department of Homeland Security since 2003, as those functions fall under the category of "necessary for the safety of human life or protection of property."
"We still believe there is an opportunity to avoid a government shutdown but are working to ensure that we are prepared for all possible scenarios," continued the statement from Homeland Security.
The facility on Plum Island provides about 800 jobs for several residents of Southold Town, Riverhead, points west of the North Fork on Long Island, and several towns in southeastern Connecticut.