PLUM ISLAND, NY (WTEN)– It sits off the northern fork of Long Island and is only a few miles off shore from old Lyme, Connecticut.  Many have seen it from a distance, but only a few have gotten this close and know what really goes on inside the Animal Disease Research Center on Plum Island.  

“We don’t work with human pathogens,” said Dr. Larry Barrett. “We work with animal pathogens that are transmitted from animal livestock to livestock.”

Barrett is the research center’s director. He says the center’s mission is and always has been to protect our nation’s livestock from foot and mouth disease, African swine fever, and other diseases that only infect animals.

Plum Island has a mysterious past with alleged classified secrets such as stories of a hybrid creature named the Montauk Monster or theories that Nazi scientists worked on germ warfare creating Lyme disease which then accidentally got out.

Dr. Luis Rodriguez is one of the lead researchers on Plum Island says it’s all conspiracy and none of it true.

“I think the biggest misconception is that we work on secrets and that our research is secret,” said Rodriguez.

Plum island scientist Dr. Bruce Harper explains his team’s work with cells, bacteria and viruses.

“There’s not a whole lot of difference in what goes on here than what goes on on the other side of that wall,” said Harper gesturing towards a classified area.

Harper says that’s not because of the potential harm to humans, but to our nation’s agricultural industry.

“It’s a $1.5 trillion industry for this country,” said Barrett. “You have the cheapest food in the world, and what this lab does is help make sure those diseases stay out of the country.”

“[Lyme disease] was never worked on here,” Barrett added. “The USDA never did any work on germ warfare.”