Associated Press & New York Daily News – 2011-01-28 00:47:18
Dugway Proving Ground Reopens After Lockdown
Citizens for Legitimate Government
(January 27, 2011) — The Army says Dugway Proving Ground, where military weapons are tested, was locked down for hours because a “small” [but lethal] amount of a nerve agent was unaccounted for. The military said in a statement Thursday the amount missing was less than one fourth of a teaspoon of VX nerve agent, which affects the body’s ability to carry messages through the nerves. The missing vial prompted a lockdown late Wednesday afternoon that lasted until the agent was found early Thursday.
VX (O-ethyl S-[2-(diisopropylamino)ethyl] methylphosphonothioate) is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687 and the production and stockpiling of VX is outlawed under the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention.]
Utah Army Post Reopens after Nerve Agent Found
Jennifer Dobner, Associated Press
DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah (January 27, 2011) — The Army said Thursday that Dugway Proving Ground, where military weapons are tested, was locked down for hours because a small amount of a nerve agent was unaccounted for.
The amount missing was less than one-fourth of a teaspoon of VX nerve agent, which affects the body’s ability to carry messages through the nerves. The missing vial prompted a lockdown late Wednesday afternoon that lasted nearly 14 hours.
Post commander Col. William E. King said the nerve agent was never unsecured but had been incorrectly placed in a mislabeled container after a test on Tuesday at a base lab. The error was detected during a routine inventory check. “It’s an unfortunate oversight but one that we take very seriously,” King said at a news conference outside of the base gates in Utah’s Skull Valley, about 85 miles southwest of Salt Lake City.
King said he has halted all testing and handling of chemical weapons on the post until an internal review of procedures can be conducted. Staff will also be retrained.
Surveillance camera video from the lab showed no one had access to the vial during the hours it was unaccounted for. The vial was both stored in a secondary container and locked inside a vault, and multiple security systems are in place, King said. “It’s not very easy to get in to our vault,” he said.
After an initial investigation, King said he believes there was “no malicious intent” on the part of the two base employees who had conducted the tests. However, Army and FBI investigators were still talking with the pair on Thursday to determine what went wrong.
King said he did not yet know whether any disciplinary action would result from their actions. No one was in danger and the lockdown was ordered as a precaution, King said.
Between 1,200 and 1,400 people were inside the facility at the time. They included military personnel, contractors and civilian workers. About 850 people live on the base. “All of our employees are safe and there is no damages that I know of,” Bonnie Robinson, a post spokeswoman, said Thursday morning.
Dugway is used to test military weapons, but its primary mission is defending troops against biological and chemical attacks. Encompassing more than 800,000 acres of desert, the post also is used by the U.S. Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard for maneuver training.
VX is just one of numerous deadly chemicals tested and handled at the base. A persistent chemical agent, VX can be “very deadly” if it makes contact with the skin, but the amount of material in the misplaced vial was so small that only a few people might have been affected, King said. “VX, normally from a warfare perspective, would be put out in gallons,” he said.
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All Clear on Utah Army Base
After Lost Lethal VX Nerve Gas
Causes ‘Serious Concern,’ Lockdown
Richard Sisk / New York Daily News
WASHINGTON BUREAU (January 27th 2011) — The Army gave the all-clear Thursday after loosing track overnight of a vial of lethal VX nerve agent at a Utah base.
An emergency lockdown went into effect around 6 p.m. Wednesday at the sprawling Dugway Proving Grounds when the vial turned up missing during a routine inventory check. More than 1,000 employees were held at the base southwest of Salt Lake City as military officials launched a frantic search.
The missing vial was found on the base around 3 a.m.
A military spokesman said “all personnel are uninjured and safe. The public is safe as well.” The vial contained less than 1 milliliter, or roughly a quarter-teaspoon, of the VX, considered the deadliest agent in the military’s arsenal. Earlier in the day, military officials mysteriously said the shutdown went into effect amid a “serious concern.” Armed sentries blocked the entrances while Army officials refused to say what prompted the lockdown.
“No one is in immediate danger but these steps are required,” Col. William King IV, the base commander, said at the time.
Dugway is used by the Army Reserves and the U.S. National Guard for training, and the base also serves as a bombing range. The Army Test and Evaluation Command center also conducts training and tests of defenses against biological and chemical weapons attacks.
VOTE: Lethal Weapons
Does this make you nervous about the security at US army bases?
Yes. The military needs to be more careful when it comes to deadly weapons.
No. It was a simple mistake and they handled it properly.
I don’t care.
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