Pennsylvania's secret stockpile location isn't so secret anymore. Now, state lawmakers are asking if that stockpile needs to be moved.
A viral photo revealed the boxes piling high inside the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex. So Wednesday the House State Government Committee met to further investigate the situation and to ask why the Farm Show was picked as the central stockpile location.
Representatives from PEMA and other state departments explained that the farm show has long been designated by the state as an emergency site. However, some lawmakers questioned if having one central location for the stockpile was a good idea as it raises security concerns and the threat of having the stockpile wiped out in case of flood or fire.
State officials acknowledged the security concern now that the secret location has been made public but they said the stockpile is supervised by Capitol police. They also defended only using one stockpile location as they said it eased delivery and distribution logistics.
FOX43's requests to tour the stockpile have been denied with a PEMA spokesperson telling FOX43 "for security and public health and safety purposes, the Farm Show Complex is only accessible by essential employees."
Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams County) told FOX43 he was denied access to inspect the PPE at the Farm Show Complex. Mastriano said the public deserves to know how taxpayer dollars are being used and if there are any transparency issues.
Mastriano's office also questioned if the stockpile is preventing the Pa. Farm Show Complex from hosting in person events. A similar question was posed to state lawmakers on Thursday when state officials were asked if the stockpile would prevent future events. State officials said they did not yet know.
"Now, that the farm show and the tourism groups want to anxiously open up to get events there, we're looking for a place for all of the supplies," Rep. Patty Kim (D-Dauphin County), said.
State officials said Thursday they need $6 million approved in the next budget in order to secure a long-term lease in a new location and move the stockpile out. They said they hoped to have the stockpile removed by fall.
According to officials, the PPE is being shipped out as needed to support vaccination sites across the commonwealth and a long term plan is underway.
The equipment consists of masks and sanitizer, and it's been housed at the complex in Dauphin County since last March.
Lawmakers claim the investigation is part of their series of hearings on the handling of the pandemic by the Wolf Administration.