Friday, May 7, 2010

Plum Island

Clarice Starling: If your profile helps us capture Buffalo Bill in time to save Catherine Martin, the Senator promises you a transfer to the VA Hospital at Oneida Park, New York with a view of the woods nearby. Maximum security still applies, of course. You'd have reasonable access to books. Best of all, though, one week of the year, you'd get to leave the hospital and go here - (She produces a map) Plum Island, every day of that week, you may walk on the beach. You may swim in the ocean for up to one hour. Under SWAT team surveillance, of course. And there you have it...If Catherine Martin dies, you get nothing.

Hannibal Lecter: Plum Island Animal Disease Research Center. Sounds charming.

Do you remember this bit of dialogue from the film "Silence of the Lambs"? Well, as New Englanders may well know, there really is a Plum Island located off the northeastern tip of Long Island, New York. And Plum Island really is home to a government-owned animal research facility, established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1954. There veterinarians like Pedrag Pecic (3rd image) have trained as a Foreign Animal Disease Diagnosticians and researchers have studied things like foot-and-mouth disease. In 2003, the Department of Homeland Security took ownership of the island and has recommended Kansas as the site for a new high-security animal disease lab.

And so Plum Island will be for sale, and boasts the following:
  • A Biolevel-3 research facility
  • A 3-story 4-bedroom fieldstone residence with all the amenities, including an alarm system and a fireplace
  • A charming little shingled guest cottage
  • An 1827 55' octagonal stone and timber lighthouse with residence and storage shed
  • A 1-hour drive by car from New York City, then park in a private 2-car garage on the mainland and take a 5-minute boat ride to the 840-acre island
  • Swimming, fishing and boating on a private lake
The General Services Administration is holding hearings about the proposed sale later this month, but the residence on a 1-acre lot is already listed at $1,500,000 and the entire island has been appraised in excess of $2 million - although the New York Times reports that Plum Island's beachfront property would fetch $1 million an acre.

Plum Island is considered to be a target for terrorists, has been the subject of both fiction and (disputed) nonfiction, and was in the news in January 2010 when the partially decomposed body of a long-fingered man washed up on its southeast shore.

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