Survey of Reported Chemical and Biological Contamination at the Fort Greely Gerstle River Test Center

LCD-80-25: Published: Nov 30, 1979. Publicly Released: Nov 30, 1979.

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Biological and chemical warfare testing occurred at the Fort Greely Gerstle River Test Center in Alaska until the late 1960's. Some of the agents tested included nerve agents, mustard gas, and biological substances. The land was declared to be excess in 1972 and scheduled for return to the public domain as soon as it could be certified as free of contamination. This proved to be impossible, however, because the essential records which provide details on the tests were not available.

Records of the testing period at the Center were incomplete and subsequent records were so poor that the Army could not certify that the land was free from contamination even though three cleanup efforts had been made. The Bureau of Land Management and the General Services Administration will not accept contaminated land. In 1979 the land was removed from excess status because of the lack of certification, and it is currently being used by the Army for nonbiological testing. No tests have been performed at the disposal sites to insure that they are completely decontaminated. If canisters of a chemical agent should surface, decontamination gear and treatment are not available at the Center. Although they are available at Fort Greely, a 15-minute helicopter ride away, they would be of little use because a person exposed to the chemical agents could die within 5 minutes of exposure.

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