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  • Desert Storm Battle Registry
    Cold War Bio-Weapon Tests Included California Defense: Secret trials in six states, from 62 to 73, were to track dispersal patterns, officials say. By JOHN
    Message 1 of 2 , Oct 10, 2002
      Cold War Bio-Weapon Tests Included California
      * Defense: Secret trials in six states, from '62 to '73, were to
      track dispersal patterns, officials say.
      By JOHN HENDREN, TIMES STAFF WRITER

      WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon sprayed biological and chemical
      agents off the coast of San Diego during the Cold War, part of a
      series of previously undisclosed tests in several states that exposed
      troops and perhaps thousands of civilians to the compounds,
      defense officials said Wednesday.

      In all, 27 newly disclosed secret tests were conducted in California,
      Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland and Utah, officials said. The tests,
      conducted from 1962 to 1973, were also carried out in Canada and
      the United Kingdom.

      In February 1966, a Navy vessel in the Pacific Ocean off the coast
      of San Diego was sprayed with methylacetoacetate, or MA, a chemical
      that irritates the eyes, skin and respiratory tract but is not considered
      hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency.

      In a second test in the summer of 1968, MA and Bacillus globigii, or
      BG, were released in the same waters. A bacterium related to anthrax,
      BG was later found to infect people with weak immune systems. No
      civilians are thought to have been exposed to harmful agents in those
      tests because they were carried out over the ocean.

      It was the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that it used the
      agents on U.S. soil and that civilians may have been exposed during
      the tests. The Defense Department previously revealed that 10 tests
      were carried out during the Cold War on U.S. ships to determine how
      they would perform under chemical or biological attack.

      The Defense Department released the information at a House Veterans
      Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday; some elements were leaked
      to reporters Tuesday.

      Military officials insisted that none of the agents used near civilians
      was thought at the time to be dangerous, although some—including
      E. coli bacteria—were later found to be harmful, even deadly.

      In 21 tests on land and six newly reported tests at sea overseen by
      the Deseret Test Center at Ft. Douglas, Utah, live biological agents
      and lethal chemicals—including sarin and VX—were sprayed not
      only in the six states, but at or near military facilities in Puerto Rico,
      Canada, the United Kingdom, the Marshall Islands, Baker Island and
      over international waters in the Pacific Ocean.

      The 37 tests disclosed so far affected about 5,000 service members
      at sea and 500 on land from 1962 to 1973, defense officials said. The
      Pentagon has notified about 1,400 of those soldiers about the secret
      testing regimen, dubbed "Project 112."

      The Deseret test center reported that four people were infected at the
      time and successfully treated. Veterans Affairs officials said they were
      studying the phenomenon; 53 veterans have filed health claims since
      the 1990s. The claims blame what they say was their exposure to the
      chemical or biological agents for a variety of ailments, including
      muscular, skeletal, digestive, hearing, skin and cardiovascular disorders.

      Defense officials said the Pentagon has no process for notifying
      civilians who may have been exposed in the U.S., including those
      possibly numbering "into the thousands" on Oahu, Hawaii.

      Pentagon officials believe local authorities were notified of the tests
      at the time, said William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant Defense
      secretary for health affairs, but most citizens apparently were not.
      Veterans advocates said lower-level soldiers also were unaware,
      although defense officials insisted the soldiers were protected by
      chemical gear and masks.

      "We're making this information available so that anyone who believes
      there may have been some ill effect could come forward,"
      Winkenwerder said.

      Civilians were not believed to have been affected in California
      because the four tests conducted there—including two first reported
      Wednesday—were all conducted off the San Diego coast in the
      Pacific Ocean, according to the Pentagon analysis.

      Defense officials insisted that civilians were exposed only to
      live biological agents that simulated more deadly agents in the
      way they spread, but were themselves believed to be harmless.
      However, the simulated substances included E. coli and other
      agents that were later found to be harmful or fatal to young children,
      the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

      Even soldiers and sailors exposed during the tests "may not have
      known all the details of these tests," Winkenwerder said.

      "Most of these people didn't have a clue what they were part
      of," said Kirt Love, a veterans advocate with the Desert Storm
      Battle Registry who contended that in many cases only senior
      officers were aware of the tests. "These were not safe agents
      at the time."

      After the report was released of the House Veterans Affairs
      Committee hearing, it was detailed at a Pentagon briefing. Defense
      officials said the tests were conducted for potential offensive use
      against U.S. enemies and for defense against the Cold War biological
      and chemical weapons arsenal amassed by the Soviet Union.

      The Navy trials tested the ability of ships and sailors, clad in chemical
      defense gear, to perform under a chemical or biological attack at sea.
      The land-based tests were done to evaluate how the agents dispersed,
      officials said. Desert tests such as those in Utah helped the Pentagon
      amass much of the information the military has on how chemical and
      biological agents would perform in desert areas such as Iraq, said
      Anna Johnson-Winegar, the Pentagon's assistant secretary for
      chemical and biological defense.

      "The purpose of these operational tests was to test equipment, procedures,
      military tactics, etc., and to learn more about biological and chemical
      agents," Winkenwerder said. "The tests were not conducted to evaluate
      the effects of dangerous agents on people."

      The United States ended its biological weapons program in the 1960s
      and in 1997 signed a treaty agreeing to destroy all of its chemical
      weapons. Funding and disposal issues have delayed much of that
      process, leaving stores of lethal chemicals at several military sites
      throughout the nation.

      Today, defense officials insist that the only testing of toxic and biological
      agents in the United States is given to chemical specialists among the
      armed services at a tightly contained testing facility at Ft. Leonard
      Wood, Mo. So-called stimulants still are used elsewhere.

      The disclosures are unlikely to be the last from Project 112. The military
      had planned 134 tests; 46 were conducted, 62 were canceled and the
      status of the remainder is unclear. The newly disclosed tests used a
      variety of agents under various conditions.

      Tests in the late 1960s in Porton Down, England, and Ralson, Canada,
      used tabun and soman, two deadly nerve agents.

      In the 1965 Oahu test, BG was sprayed in a simulated attack called
      "Big Tom." Near Ft. Greely, Alaska, researchers tested how deadly
      sarin gas, the toxin members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult used in
      1995 to kill commuters in the Tokyo subway, would disperse after
      being released from artillery shells and rockets in dense forests in
      a test dubbed "Devil Hole I" in 1965. A year later, VX agent, which
      lingers like motor oil in deadly pools, was released by artillery shells
      in "Devil Hole II."

      If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at
    • Paul D Lyons
      Dear Kirt, This is a very good article for both you and the DSBR; in the future though, have you considered asking the news paper s to establish just who the
      Message 2 of 2 , Oct 10, 2002
        Dear Kirt,
         
        This is a very good article for both you and the DSBR; in the future though, have you considered asking the news paper's to establish just who the Desert Storm Battle Registry is, such as a Gulf War Veteran's Support Group...This will definitely help name recognition for the DSBR...Just some food for thought...as you continue to build your base...
         
        Sincerely,
         
        Paul
        ----- Original Message -----
        Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2002 4:55 PM
        Subject: [gulflink] Front page La Times - SHAD and DSBR

        Cold War Bio-Weapon Tests Included California
        * Defense: Secret trials in six states, from '62 to '73, were to
        track dispersal patterns, officials say.
        By JOHN HENDREN, TIMES STAFF WRITER

        WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon sprayed biological and chemical
        agents off the coast of San Diego during the Cold War, part of a
        series of previously undisclosed tests in several states that exposed
        troops and perhaps thousands of civilians to the compounds,
        defense officials said Wednesday.

        In all, 27 newly disclosed secret tests were conducted in California,
        Alaska, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland and Utah, officials said. The tests,
        conducted from 1962 to 1973, were also carried out in Canada and
        the United Kingdom.

        In February 1966, a Navy vessel in the Pacific Ocean off the coast
        of San Diego was sprayed with methylacetoacetate, or MA, a chemical
        that irritates the eyes, skin and respiratory tract but is not considered
        hazardous by the Environmental Protection Agency.

        In a second test in the summer of 1968, MA and Bacillus globigii, or
        BG, were released in the same waters. A bacterium related to anthrax,
        BG was later found to infect people with weak immune systems. No
        civilians are thought to have been exposed to harmful agents in those
        tests because they were carried out over the ocean.

        It was the first time the Pentagon has acknowledged that it used the
        agents on U.S. soil and that civilians may have been exposed during
        the tests. The Defense Department previously revealed that 10 tests
        were carried out during the Cold War on U.S. ships to determine how
        they would perform under chemical or biological attack.

        The Defense Department released the information at a House Veterans
        Affairs Committee meeting Wednesday; some elements were leaked
        to reporters Tuesday.

        Military officials insisted that none of the agents used near civilians
        was thought at the time to be dangerous, although some—including
        E. coli bacteria—were later found to be harmful, even deadly.

        In 21 tests on land and six newly reported tests at sea overseen by
        the Deseret Test Center at Ft. Douglas, Utah, live biological agents
        and lethal chemicals—including sarin and VX—were sprayed not
        only in the six states, but at or near military facilities in Puerto Rico,
        Canada, the United Kingdom, the Marshall Islands, Baker Island and
        over international waters in the Pacific Ocean.

        The 37 tests disclosed so far affected about 5,000 service members
        at sea and 500 on land from 1962 to 1973, defense officials said. The
        Pentagon has notified about 1,400 of those soldiers about the secret
        testing regimen, dubbed "Project 112."

        The Deseret test center reported that four people were infected at the
        time and successfully treated. Veterans Affairs officials said they were
        studying the phenomenon; 53 veterans have filed health claims since
        the 1990s. The claims blame what they say was their exposure to the
        chemical or biological agents for a variety of ailments, including
        muscular, skeletal, digestive, hearing, skin and cardiovascular disorders.

        Defense officials said the Pentagon has no process for notifying
        civilians who may have been exposed in the U.S., including those
        possibly numbering "into the thousands" on Oahu, Hawaii.

        Pentagon officials believe local authorities were notified of the tests
        at the time, said William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant Defense
        secretary for health affairs, but most citizens apparently were not.
        Veterans advocates said lower-level soldiers also were unaware,
        although defense officials insisted the soldiers were protected by
        chemical gear and masks.

        "We're making this information available so that anyone who believes
        there may have been some ill effect could come forward,"
        Winkenwerder said.

        Civilians were not believed to have been affected in California
        because the four tests conducted there—including two first reported
        Wednesday—were all conducted off the San Diego coast in the
        Pacific Ocean, according to the Pentagon analysis.

        Defense officials insisted that civilians were exposed only to
        live biological agents that simulated more deadly agents in the
        way they spread, but were themselves believed to be harmless.
        However, the simulated substances included E. coli and other
        agents that were later found to be harmful or fatal to young children,
        the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

        Even soldiers and sailors exposed during the tests "may not have
        known all the details of these tests," Winkenwerder said.

        "Most of these people didn't have a clue what they were part
        of," said Kirt Love, a veterans advocate with the Desert Storm
        Battle Registry who contended that in many cases only senior
        officers were aware of the tests. "These were not safe agents
        at the time."

        After the report was released of the House Veterans Affairs
        Committee hearing, it was detailed at a Pentagon briefing. Defense
        officials said the tests were conducted for potential offensive use
        against U.S. enemies and for defense against the Cold War biological
        and chemical weapons arsenal amassed by the Soviet Union.

        The Navy trials tested the ability of ships and sailors, clad in chemical
        defense gear, to perform under a chemical or biological attack at sea.
        The land-based tests were done to evaluate how the agents dispersed,
        officials said. Desert tests such as those in Utah helped the Pentagon
        amass much of the information the military has on how chemical and
        biological agents would perform in desert areas such as Iraq, said
        Anna Johnson-Winegar, the Pentagon's assistant secretary for
        chemical and biological defense.

        "The purpose of these operational tests was to test equipment, procedures,
        military tactics, etc., and to learn more about biological and chemical
        agents," Winkenwerder said. "The tests were not conducted to evaluate
        the effects of dangerous agents on people."

        The United States ended its biological weapons program in the 1960s
        and in 1997 signed a treaty agreeing to destroy all of its chemical
        weapons. Funding and disposal issues have delayed much of that
        process, leaving stores of lethal chemicals at several military sites
        throughout the nation.

        Today, defense officials insist that the only testing of toxic and biological
        agents in the United States is given to chemical specialists among the
        armed services at a tightly contained testing facility at Ft. Leonard
        Wood, Mo. So-called stimulants still are used elsewhere.

        The disclosures are unlikely to be the last from Project 112. The military
        had planned 134 tests; 46 were conducted, 62 were canceled and the
        status of the remainder is unclear. The newly disclosed tests used a
        variety of agents under various conditions.

        Tests in the late 1960s in Porton Down, England, and Ralson, Canada,
        used tabun and soman, two deadly nerve agents.

        In the 1965 Oahu test, BG was sprayed in a simulated attack called
        "Big Tom." Near Ft. Greely, Alaska, researchers tested how deadly
        sarin gas, the toxin members of the Aum Supreme Truth cult used in
        1995 to kill commuters in the Tokyo subway, would disperse after
        being released from artillery shells and rockets in dense forests in
        a test dubbed "Devil Hole I" in 1965. A year later, VX agent, which
        lingers like motor oil in deadly pools, was released by artillery shells
        in "Devil Hole II."

        If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at


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