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Building 257

building 257 plum island, building 257
Building 257, also known as Lab 257, was a United States biological warfare research laboratory located at Fort Terry on Plum Island, New York Originally intended for munitions storage, the facility researched anti-animal biological agents beginning in 1952 under the United States Army Biological warfare research continued in the building under the United States Department of Agriculture USDA until a new laboratory was completed


  • 1 History
  • 2 Research
  • 3 Controversy
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References


Building No 257 at Fort Terry, on Plum Island near Long Island, New York, was completed around 19111 The original purpose of the building was to store weapons, such as mines, and the structure was designated the Combined Torpedo Storehouse and Cable Tanks building1 Fort Terry went through a period of activations and deactivations through World War II until the US Army Chemical Corps took over the facility in 1952 for use in anti-animal biological warfare BW research2 The Chemical Corps planned a laboratory for the fort, to be housed in Building 2571 The conversion of Fort Terry to a BW facility required the remodeling of Building 257 and other structures2

As work neared completion on the lab and other facilities in the spring of 1954 the mission of Fort Terry changed3 Construction was completed on the facilities on May 26, 1954, but the post was transferred to the USDA before the military could utilize the new laboratory facilities1 Fort Terry was officially transferred to the USDA on July 1, 1954, at the time scientists from the Bureau of Animal Industry were already working in Building 2571 Construction on a new lab facility, known as Building 101, also began about this time but was not completed until September 19561

A modernization program in 1977 aimed to update both Building 257 and Building 101, but the program was canceled in 1979 because of construction contract irregularities1 Plum Island facilities were essentially unchanged until a new modernization began in 19901 Two-thirds of the laboratory facilities inside Building 101 were renovated and operations in Building 257 were consolidated into Building 1011 According to the United States Department of Homeland Security, Building 257 was closed in 1995 and currently poses no health hazard4


The original anti-animal BW mission was "to establish and pursue a program of research and development of certain anti-animal BW agents"5 By August 1954 animals occupied holding areas at Plum Island and research was ongoing within Building 2573 Scientists worked with "hot viruses" in the building, known simply as Lab 257 at this point, on animals and in petri dishes3 Work was conducted through gloveboxes, steel, windowed boxes outfitted with glove inserts for experiments inside the contained box3 The USDA facility, known as the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, continued work on biological warfare research until the US program was ended by Richard Nixon in 19692

The bio-weapons research at Building 257 and Fort Terry was shrouded in aura of mystery and secrecy46 The existence of biological warfare experiments on Plum Island was denied for several decades by the US government In 1993 Newsday unearthed documents proving otherwise6


In 2004 author Michael Carroll published Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory7 Many of the assertions and accusations made in the book are counter to the government's position and have been criticized and challenged48 The review in Army Chemical Review concluded "Lab 257 would be cautiously valuable to someone writing a history of Plum Island, but is otherwise an example of fringe literature with a portrayal of almost every form of novelist style"8 The book advances the idea that Lyme disease outbreaks have originated at Plum Island and conjectures several means by which animal diseases could have left the island Sandy Miller-Hayes, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson, told the Associated Press that Lyme disease was never studied at Plum Island4

See alsoedit

  • Building 470
  • Fort Detrick


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "1669-2003: A Partial History of Plum Island Archived 2009-03-09 at the Wayback Machine", United States Animal Health Association Newsletter, Vol 30, No 4, October 2003, pp 5, 26, accessed January 10, 2009
  2. ^ a b c Cella, Alexandra "An Overview of Plum Island: History, Research and Effects on Long Island", Long Island Historical Journal, Fall 2003/Spring 2004, Vol 16, Nos 1 and 2, pp 176-181 194-199 in PDF, accessed January 10, 2009
  3. ^ a b c d Carroll, Michael C Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory, Google Books, HarperCollins, 2004, pp 45-48, ISBN 0060011416
  4. ^ a b c d Dunn, Adam "The mysterious lab off New York's shore", CNNcom, April 2, 2004, accessed January 10, 2009
  5. ^ Wheelis, Mark, et al Deadly Cultures: Biological Weapons Since 1945, Google Books, Harvard University Press, 2006 p 225-228, ISBN 0674016998
  6. ^ a b Lambert, Bruce "Closely Guarded Secrets: Some Islands You Can't Get to Visit", The New York Times, May 17, 1998, accessed January 10, 2009
  7. ^ Bleyer, Bill "Plum Island Animal Disease Center", from Newsday, via The Baltimore Sun, April 26, 2004, accessed January 10, 2009
  8. ^ a b Kirby, Reid "Book Reviews", Army Chemical Review, January–June 2005, accessed January 10, 2009

Coordinates: 41°10′190″N 72°11′428″W / 41171944°N 72195222°W / 41171944; -72195222

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Building 257

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